Unpopular policies on Afghanistan, Kyoto pact and other issues
have caused Canada's minority Conservative government to lose
ground rapidly, while the opposition Liberals are catching up in
Recent polls have showed that the Liberals, who lost the January
federal election after a 12-year successive rule, are gaining back
strength. An EKOS opinion poll published last weekend showed that
the Conservatives' supporting rate have fallen to only 36 percent
from 38.7 percent a month ago and that of the Liberals climbing to
31.7 percent to 28.8 percent.
A Strategic Counsel poll released Wednesday put both parties at 32
percent support among voters. It was the first time since the
Conservatives' victory in the January 23 election that a poll no
longer had the Liberals trailing.
The most noticeable slide in popularity for the Conservatives
occurred in the province of Quebec. The party has been sliding in
the polls there since May when it got a 30 percent rate. But that
number drops to 16 percent now. The party received 25 percent of
Quebec votes in the Jan. 23 election.
Analysts attributed the Conservatives' slide in popularity to
Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan, the government's
lack of action to reduce greenhouse gases and its plan to hold a
vote on gay marriage.
The rapidly increasing fatalities of Canadian soldiers this year
has prompted an ever louder call for troops withdrawal from the
public. Now only 36 percent of Canadians support the mission, down
from 50 percent half a year ago.
Critics have also accused the Harper government of following the
United States blindly in its Afghan policy. Canada should put its
main attention on helping the Afghans to reconstruct, instead of
fighting with the Talibans as it is doing now, they pointed
The Harper government's rejection of the Kyoto pact have also
drawn fire widely. Harper, who has repeatedly said Canada cannot
meet the targets set out in the Kyoto protocol on climate change,
announced last week he would introduce a legislation called Clean
Air act which would set intensity-based targets rather than
absolute ones for emissions reductions.
Intensity-based targets mean that industries would have to
reduce emissions per unit of production but as industries expand,
so would emissions overall. This has prompted an immediate outcry
from environmentalists and opposition politicians.
The plan indicated that Harper has given up Canada's objectives
of the Kyoto pact and Clean Air Act was no more than "political
smog", aimed at wooing voters who have pledged their support for
Kyoto, critics say.
The Liberals' increasing popularity has emboldened the party to
speculate about an election early next year. Former Liberal cabinet
minister John McCallum said he had no doubt that his party would
vote against the Conservatives' upcoming budget, expected in
February or March. If the budget is defeated, an election is
triggered. But the Liberals need another party to help in the
McCallum also said that once his party picked a new leader in
December, to replace former Prime Minister Paul Martin, support
would rise even further.
"If we're tied with the Conservatives without a leader, I think
with a new leader and all the publicity surrounding the convention
we will be in first place, and so I think it would be very good for
us to have a spring election," McCallum said.
The Liberals will elect a leader at a convention scheduled on
Dec.2. Front-runners in the race include former Harvard professor
Michael Ignatieff, former Ontario premier Bob Rae and former
federal Environment Minister Stephen Dion.
(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2006)