Canadians becoming more ‘progressive’: poll

Canadians are increasingly embracing “progressive” values that stand in sharp contrast to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s brand of conservatism, a new poll has found.

The EKOS Research poll, to be released Thursday at a conference organized in Ottawa by the Canada 2020 think-tank, reveals a shift in public opinion that could have ramifications for next year’s federal election.

On a range of issues – law enforcement, legalization of marijuana, foreign policy, and the appropriate role and size of government – a majority of Canadians are offside with the government, the survey suggests.

The electorate is becoming rapidly polarized, with a wave of Canadians declaring their political ideology to be “small l liberal,” regardless of which political party they support.

Moreover, the poll finds deep discontent among Canadians in key areas: Middle-class anxiety about the economy; a gloomy prediction about the quality of life for the next generation; a dissatisfaction with the “direction” of the government; and a growing distrust of the political system.

The concern about the health of Canada’s democracy is so deep that 56 per cent support the notion that voting in this country should be mandatory, as it is in Australia and Brazil.

The poll was commissioned by Canada 2020, which promotes “progressive solutions” to Canada’s policy problems.

EKOS president Frank Graves said the new polling data show a significant shift in public opinion.

“Values are pretty glacial things,” said Graves. “They don’t typically shift that much but they seem to be moving as a response to, I think, being governed from the right.”

For years, he said, there were no major differences between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. But that changed in 2006 when Harper came to power under a new Conservative banner that included previous members of the Reform party.

Harper won three elections with that new political “style” and policy “emphasis,” said Graves.

“They were OK with it for a while,” he said of Canadians, “but it seems now they are going ‘No, that’s enough.’ ”

On that point, the poll shows where Canadians stand on what could be a ballot box question in the 2015 election.

The Liberals and New Democrats are advocating new programs in a range of areas, although the details haven’t been sketched out. The Conservatives, by contrast, have been touting the importance of lean government and tax cuts.

Ekos found 57 per cent of Canadians say the best option for moving Canada forward is by “increasing the role of government to invest in new areas such as job creation, public infrastructure, and stronger social security.”

Meanwhile, 44 per cent say the best option for moving Canada forward is by “reducing the size of government and providing targeted tax relief in order to allow the private sector to propel growth and jobs.”

Graves said there is a disturbing disquiet in the middle class that could become a crisis if left untended.

“When you have a shrinking, pessimistic middle class that feel they are falling backward, that’s never a good harbinger for the future. If that doesn’t get turned around, we’re in huge trouble, I believe.”

mkennedy@ottawacitizen.com

Twitter.com/Mark_Kennedy_

Poll highlights

47: Percentage of people who consider themselves “small l liberal” now, compared to 24 per cent in 2008. The change comes as far fewer people say they have no ideology. Twenty-seven per cent say they are “small c conservative” now, compared to 28 per cent in 2008.

29: Percentage of people who say police should have more powers to ensure security even if it invades Canadians’ privacy, a drop from 60 per cent in 2008.

57: Percentage of people who say marijuana should be legalized, something that is proposed by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau but firmly opposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government. Twenty-six per cent support decriminalization so that possession of small amounts of pot carries a fine, something that is being considered by the Conservatives. Only 13 per cent say marijuana should remain illegal.

40: Percentage of people who say international development and aid should be utmost in Canada’s foreign policy, compared to 37 per cent who say it should be diplomacy and 16 per cent who say it should be defence.

64:  Percentage of people who think the economy’s “incentive systems” are broken and hard work is no longer paying off.

57: Percentage who think the next generation in 25 years will be “worse off” in terms of quality of life, compared to 26 per cent who think it will be the same and 13 per cent who think it will be better.

56: Percentage who support compulsory voting in Canada. Thirty-one per cent oppose it, and 11 per cent don’t have an opinion.

– Methodology: The poll of 1,549 adult Canadians was conducted Sept. 21 to Sept. 25, 2014 and has a margin of error of 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

What is Canada 2020?

The poll was commissioned by Canada 2020, which promotes “progressive solutions” to Canada’s policy problems.

More than 400 people will attend its two-day conference in Ottawa, where speakers will include Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, former Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Conservative Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

Canada 2020 co-founder Tim Barber said he hopes the conference will focus debate on the proper role of government.

“As a progressive organization, we care about government. We think that government matters. I think there is a need to re-articulate what that vision looks like. And there’s something between the nanny state and the minimalist state that’s the sweet spot,” he said.

– Mark Kennedy, Ottawa Citizen

運送力って、2020年にどーんと来日旅行者が増えるからっていう想定の下に進めるものではないですよね。昨年は訪日外国人旅行者数が1,036万人と過去最大を記録しました。ここ10数年前に比べると2倍以上という急増です。その間、リーマンショック、東日本大震災と、観光客数が激減する要因が大きく2度ありましたが、それをはるかに乗り越えてしまっているんです。銀座の街はあまり日本人が歩いてないとか、そういう劇的な変化は、この10年で明確に起こってますよね。ここから5~6年の間に、観光客はますます増えますよ。その状況を受け入れざるを得ない。でも、日本人、東京人って外から見た東京というものを意識したことがなかったと思うんですよ。世界の観光都市ってパリやNYもだけど、観光客が行くところと地元の人しか行かない場所が分かれている。最近の東京って、そうなりつつある気がします。
今では知識集約型産業というか、現代のビジネスでは、ほとんどお金を生むのはアイデアだけです。アイデアがいかに生まれるかというと、人と人の接触からしか生まれません。特に違う知識を持った同士がぶつかることでアイデアは生まれる。ちょっと前までは、在宅勤務とか電子会議とかテレワークの時代という声が大きかったんですが、実はそれらがあまり富を生まないことがわかってきた。交通や情報技術が発展しているのに、一向に在宅勤務やテレワークが増えないのは、知識集積型産業にテレワークは向かないということなんです。実際、うまくいっている会社ほど、都心の集積が進んだ場所に狭いオフィスを構えます。日本で言うとGoogleやYahoo!が六本木にオフィスがありますよね。彼らは電子会議を普及させようとする精力ながら、一番都心にオフィスを構えるんです。
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