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Manning Centre Barometer and its read on Canada’s political climate

How long can this government maintain power? Will the Liberals be able to recover from their loss? What role will the NDP play in the future? These are all questions that arose after the election and most definitely will be talking points when Parliament resumes this fall.

The closest thing  we have to a political fortune teller, the Manning Centre (a Calgary-based think tank), published its annual Manning Centre Barometer during the Conservative National Convention this spring. The results? The future of the Conservative Party is abounding. While it included a number of fascinating statistics, a few in particular stood out to me. According to the report:

“Citizens are moving more into a world of self, family and friends and have little expectation or desire that governments will have an increasingly meaningful impact on their lives. The one exception to this tendency is defensive: Canadians expect governments to keep them safe.”

Compare this to the basic tenets of the Conservative Party: less intervention, smaller government, and greater investment in security. Something sounds familiar. The report continues by explaining that:

“Governments are expected to respond—cautiously and with the benefit of past learning—to problems as they arise, not to pursue ‘grand visions’ or force ‘grand designs’
on the population.”

This again mimics the Conservative doctrine but should raise a red flag: what about the NDP in Quebec? According to a tracking of party identification (also included in the report) from 1965 to 2010, 33 percent of Quebecers identified with the Bloc Quebecois, 25 percent with the NDP, 20 percent with the Liberals and a mere 17 percent with the Conservatives.

These statistics should come as no surprise because Quebec has traditionally been left-leaning and nationalistic—the only difference in this election is the overconfident and negligent approach Gilles Duceppe took when it came to addressing the people of Quebec and their concerns. As a result, the Quebecois chose the second viable left-of-centre option, the NDP, which glimmered with the promise of pushing Quebec’s interests forward while resonating the Bloc’s public policies better than any of the other contending parties. Though, it’s necessary to stress that they were the second viable option.

Whereas the NDP will reaffirm that their formation of Canada’s official opposition is not a honeymoon but rather a change of Canadian views, this is clearly not the case. Just as the Liberal Party needs to restructure itself, the Bloc must do the same—if done correctly and pragmatically, future election results will again reflect how Canadians have traditionally voted.

To put it simply, the Conservatives and Liberals will be back in the top voting percentiles skirmishing for governing party while the NDP, Bloc, and Green Party will drop (respectively) into third, fourth, and fifth party statuses. In other words, yes this is a honeymoon, and yes it will be ending in four years.

Among the other interesting statistics provided by the report are those titled “value statements,” which use a scale of one to seven to understand in which scenarios voters are more conservative and in which scenarios voters are less conservative. Due to the depth of those observations I won’t go into detail, but I’d highly recommend taking a look at it.

There is much evidence in the Manning Centre Barometer demonstrating that Canada’s population is slowly starting to move right-of-centre, however, one particular statistic left me grumped.

“Three in four Canadians say that politicians do not share their views as to the most important issues currently facing the country.”

While this didn’t catch me off guard, as I knew that Canadians and elected officials do not share identical outlooks on Canada, what did surprise me is the great disparity between Canadians and politicians. I’m well aware of the fact that this is not a trend that was created overnight or by one government but I also know that this disparity cannot continue to grow and must be mitigated if we want to continue to claim rule by a representative government.

For the full Manning Centre Barometer, click here.