At least, according to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted earlier this month they are.
Despite the constant media attention on Parliament Hill’s major “scandal” of the year; involving, of course, International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda, Canadians still rank Stephen Harper’s Conservative party as the best party to deliver a trustworthy government. With three opportunities in the coming weeks for opposition parties to take down the government and force an election, it wasn’t unreasonable for them to assume they could capitalize on the recent Cabinet scandal with Minister Oda and paint Harper — as they’ve been trying to do through attack advertisements — as a behind-closed-doors neoconservative with a hidden agenda. After all, it’s not like they’ve tried doing that over the past 5 years to no avail. Oh, wait…
While speaking with a well-known Canadian political operative last week, he stated that his experience with these sort of major “scandals” are that only political hacks and journalists seem to care about them. The average voter doesn’t care about a Cabinet member scribbling a note on an official piece of paper; they care about lower taxes, greater individual freedom, and government backing off. The same thing happened a few years ago when former Harper Cabinet Minister Maxime Bernier (still a Montreal Member of Parliament) had his own controversy regarding confidential documents being kept at his girlfriend’s house. Did it hurt him — or the government — in the polls, however? Not at all. When Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt left a binder with, you guessed it, confidential documents at a news, the political blogosphere lit up, but the voters didn’t care.
Instead of manufacturing controversy, the Liberal Party of Canada needs to be more concerned about the fact that consistently they are ranking behind the always-a-failure New Democratic Party in polls, and that their leader is hemorrhaging support from within his own party, especially given the evidence that Quebec Member of Parliament Justin Trudeau is silently organizing a leadership bid.
According to the Ipsos Reid poll:
• 28% of Canadians believe the Conservatives, if re-elected, would do the best job of “providing honest, open and trustworthy government.”
• 22% believe the NDP would do the best job of this.
• Just 15% say the Liberals would be best at providing honest, open and trustworthy government.
• 7% say the Bloc would be best.
• 29% don’t endorse any of the major parties as best to deliver this type of government.
While this isn’t exactly a shining endorsement for the conservative party, the latter 29% are more likely to vote with the status quo or generally not vote at all, meaning that the Conservatives still have a pretty healthy lead over all opposition parties. The Liberals have been and are continuing to make this election about accountability. Unfortunately, as pollster Darrell Bricker says, they failed to check whether or not that was an issue they could win on.