Saturday, February 12, 2005

Liberals in Serious Trouble

Twelve months ago the Liberals were a powerhouse, holding over 170 seats in the House and poised to win another strong majority. Months later, Paul Martin had derailed the train and the Liberals limped across the electoral finish line with 135 seats and a minority government. Now, things are getting even worse.

The Liberals are fighting a war on two fronts, and have been taking a beating on a nearly daily basis. Both gay marriage and the Gomery Inquiry have proven catastrophic for the party. The Liberals look like fools in Quebec, as the population is told daily how Prime Minister Chretien tried to buy the province’s support. On the other end of the spectrum, social conservatives have found a rallying cry and unified under the banner of traditional marriage.

At the same time, a series of regional issues are also doing incredible damage. The Offshore row caused great damaged to Martin’s reputation in the Atlantic provinces, problems with beef exports have continued to plague the Liberals in Alberta and the party has gained a bad name in BC thanks to the legislature raids. And to make matters worse, other provinces are now angry about the Offshore deal and clamouring for their own handout.

Common sense would dictate that the party should have been plummeting in the polls for the last year, but the Liberal aura seemed to protect them. Polls continued to show them holding strong, but now a new SES poll shows that aura is wearing off.

The Liberals are down ten points in Ontario, ten points in Atlantic Canada and three points nationally. Even worse, the Conservatives are picking up most of the Liberal support, gaining six points in Ontario, eight in the Atlantic provinces and three nationally.

The poll was taken January 28th-February 2nd , before Gomery turned extremely negative and before same sex marriage went south. In fact, the poll shows the Liberals up in Quebec, and that almost certainly won’t be true when Gomery is done with his witch-hunt.

Sure, SES uses small samples, but this poll fits with media coverage of politics and fits with what one assumes should be happening.

And the bleeding hasn’t even stopped. Today, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty threw down the gauntlet. The Premier exclaimed that Ottawa’s equalization deal with the Atlantic provinces was the last straw in a string of unfair moves by Ottawa. The province has simply had enough:
Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara said the 74 federal Liberal politicians in the province will pay at the ballot box if the Martin government doesn't listen.

"If we don't get the money from Ottawa, there will be a significant political price for Liberal MPs"
Paul Martin has created a completely untenable situation and it can only get worse. The Conservatives need an eighteen seat swing. If the Prime Minister does not get his act together he may be remembered as the Kim Campbell of the Liberal Party.

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