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Liberals, Conservatives in close race new polls shows

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As the election reaches its halfway point, the Conservatives are maintaining a slim lead over the incumbent Liberals, according to a new Ipsos poll.

The poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, shows that 37 per cent of voters surveyed would vote Conservative if an election were held tomorrow ⁠— a one-point gain since last week.

Almost two weeks after Justin Trudeau’s blackface scandal, the poll indicated that 34 per cent of decided voters would choose the Liberal Party ⁠— up two points from last week ⁠— while the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh remains at 15 per cent of the vote, same as last week.

“It’s really become a two-horse race,” said Darrell Bricker, president of Ipsos. “Consistently, the Conservatives are outpacing the Liberals.”

Bricker said he hasn’t seen an Ipsos poll in months where “we’ve actually had the Liberals ahead.”

“They’re not the front runners at the moment,” he said. “It’s a very close race obviously. But the Conservatives have consistently led the race since the beginning of the campaign.”

The small gains for both the Tories and Liberals come at the cost of the Green Party, down by four points ⁠— only 7 per cent of those surveyed said they would vote Green. The Bloc Québécois gained one point to 5 per cent, though their support in Quebec is 22 per cent (up by three points).



“This has become a two-party race and it looks like it’s fairly frozen in time right now,” Bricker said.

The poll broke down support for each party by demographics, finding that the Conservatives and the Liberals are doing “equally well with women.”

The Liberals are at 34 per cent among women and among men, while the Conservatives are at 34 per cent among women and at 40 per cent among men.

“What we’re actually seeing is that the gender gap is actually hurting the Liberal Party and that’s with men,” Bricker said.


READ MORE:
‘A really tight race’: Conservatives, Liberals locked in dead heat, Ipsos poll says

The Liberals appear popular among those aged 18 to 34 years, with 34 per cent of millennials indicating they would vote Liberal while 25 per cent chose Conservative. The NDP also received 25 per cent of support in this age group.

But that quickly changes among older voters, particularly boomers.

Among those 55 years and older ⁠— the group most likely to vote on election day ⁠— the poll showed that the Conservatives have 42 per cent of the vote while Liberals are at 35 per cent. Among voters 35 to 54 years of age, the Conservatives polled at 42 per cent ⁠— 10 points more than the Liberals (32 per cent).

Bricker warned that younger voters “seem less enthusiastic about this election campaign than they did back in 2015.”

He also said it’s an “extremely tight” race in key provinces such as Ontario ⁠— “where the Liberals have a slight lead” ⁠— and B.C.


Liberals, Conservatives

“It’s a very close race across the country,” he said, with the exception of western Canada, where the Tories are in a clear lead.

“British Columbia aside, if you look at the Prairies, you can paint it almost all blue on election night,” Bricker said.

The poll shows that Trudeau’s Liberals (39 per cent) only have two points over the Tories (37 per cent) ⁠— essentially making it a tie in Ontario. A similar situation appears in B.C., where the Conservatives (35 per cent) are only one point ahead of the Liberals (34 per cent).

 

The incumbent party (35 per cent) is also seeing a smaller though still double-digit lead over other parties in Quebec, where the Tories are at 24 per cent, the Bloc at 22 per cent, and the NDP at 11 per cent.

The poll shows that the Conservatives are at 60 per cent support in Alberta, and 50 per cent in Saskatchewan/Manitoba while the Liberals are 14 per cent in Alberta and 23 per cent in Saskatchewan/Manitoba.

The Liberals are in a slow recovery from the blackface scandal from mid-September, Bricker said.

“If the Liberals were going to have a chance to recover, (the scandal) took away at least a week, I would say, from their opportunity to really sell their agenda to Canadians,” he said. “That’s allowed for the Conservatives to kind of quietly move along and continue with their lead.”

The poll showed that approval of the Trudeau Liberal government climbed up by three points to 43 per cent. Scheer and Trudeau are also tied when it comes to who would make the best prime minister⁠ — 33 per cent of those surveyed said Trudeau, and another 33 per cent picked Scheer.

The full data for this poll can be found here

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Why Alberta is considering severing ties with the RCMP

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One of the major bullet points emerging from Premier Jason Kenney’s speech in Red Deer on Saturday was a proposal to establish a provincial police force.

If the measure were to find support, Alberta would join Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador as the only provinces to operate a provincial police force outside of the RCMP.

“We will invite the panel to explore the feasibility of establishing an Alberta provincial police force by ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement with the Government of Canada,” Kenney said during his speech.

Like much of what was announced Saturday, establishing a provincial police force is part of a bigger strategy to give Alberta greater autonomy from Ottawa.

“As Canada, at various times in history, has moved in the direction of having [provinces] who are looking for a bigger stake in their own governance, taking control of policing is important for those governments,” said Michael Kempa, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa. “It’s a key component of the administration of justice, and something they would prefer not to leave to the federal government.”

But beyond a larger strategy of seeking to move powers from federal to provincial jurisdiction, how would police services be impacted in the province were this move to occur?

More control

Outside of municipal police services in Alberta like those in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta contracts its provincial police services from the RCMP.

As a federal police force operating across all of Canada, the responsibilities assigned to the RCMP are numerous — and that’s a challenge for any police service, Kempa said.

One agency may not be able to do all of those policing functions particularly well.– Michael Kempa, University of Ottawa criminology professor

“There’s been a raging debate around the RCMP for more than two decades as to whether or not they can continue to focus on federal policing issues alongside contracted provincial and sometimes municipal policing issues as well,” Kempa said. “One agency may not be able to do all of those different policing functions particularly well.”

Part of the appeal for a province seeking to distance itself from Ottawa is the centralization of police administration, according to Robert Gordon, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University.

“It results in significant improvements because you’re working with a single system. Theoretically, it doesn’t involve Ottawa … there is far, far greater levels of control and accountability where everything is being dealt with out of Edmonton, or if you wanted, Calgary,” Gordon said. “Whereas at the moment, policing, priorities and standards are all driven by Ottawa.

“And of course, that is the last thing that an independent Alberta will want to have.”

RCMP representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Higher costs

Any move to establish a provincial police force is likely to cost more, especially in its initial stages.

“It would cost more money, no doubt about that,” Gordon said. “And I’m not talking about startup money. You’re talking millions to transition over because you have to repaint the cars, change the uniforms, all that sort of stuff.”

Ongoing costs would also likely be higher than contracting policing out to the RCMP, Gordon said.

“They will be higher partly because provincial and municipal police services and non-RCMP are paid more highly,” he said. “[Here in British Columbia], if we were to switch over it wouldn’t be a hugely complicated thing to do, and we’ve got the resources and the infrastructure in place, but I don’t know about Alberta.”

It would cost more money, no doubt about that.– Robert Gordon, Simon Fraser University criminology professor

Despite those initial costs, Kempa said the presence of a local force could provide a return on investment.

“Even if you end up spending a little more, the hope would be that if you have it under provincial jurisdiction and directly accountable to local provincial police accountability bodies, you’re going to get a policing service tailored to the preferences, needs and standards of your territory,” he said.

Alberta has had its own police force before — the Alberta Provincial Police operated in the province from 1917 until 1932. It was replaced by the RCMP in 1932 as a cost-savings measure during the Great Depression, according to the Archives Society of Alberta.

As part of Kenney’s speech on Saturday, he reiterated a campaign pledge to create an Alberta Parole Board and take over responsibility for inmates from the Parole Board of Canada.

In such a scenario, existing correctional facilities would likely be restaffed, Gordon said.

“What you would find is that most of the existing federal staff would be staying in those facilities, and you could come to some kind of cost-sharing arrangement with the feds to ensure that there’s adequate coverage,” Gordon said. “I don’t see that as being a huge issue at all, in comparison with the policing side.”

Other measures the new Fair Deal Panel will study include:

  • Establishing a provincial revenue agency by ending Alberta’s Federal-Provincial Tax Collection Agreement.
  • Withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and establishing a provincial plan.
  • Opting out of federal cost-sharing programs.
  • Seeking an exchange of tax points for federal cash transfer.
  • Establishing a formal provincial constitution.
  • Appointing a Chief Firearms Office for the province.

The panel is set to hold a series of consultations between Nov. 16 and Jan. 30, before completing a report to government by March 31.

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Jason Kenney says proposal to pull Alberta out of CPP due to hostility

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Premier Jason Kenney is defending his idea that Alberta could pull out of the federal pension plan by saying times have changed.

He says bold action is needed because of unprecedented hostility from the federal and some provincial governments that are actively blocking Alberta’s economic future.

Should Alberta opt out of CPP and launch its own version of it?

Kenney didn’t campaign in the spring election on leaving the Canada Pension Plan and setting up a provincial one, but says Albertans would get a say through a referendum.

On the weekend, Kenney announced a panel to research and hold public meetings on whether Alberta should move toward a more independent role within Canada

He suggested steps such as creating a separate police force, establishing a provincial revenue agency and establishing a provincial constitution.

Kenney says Ottawa and some provinces are unfairly restricting Alberta’s oil and gas industry with what he calls regressive laws and policy roadblocks on pipelines.

Opposition NDP critic Sarah Hoffman says Kenney has strayed too far from his election mandate and Albertans didn’t vote “to have their pensions blown up.”

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Western alienation goes to Ottawa as Andrew Scheer and Scott Moe meet with Trudeau

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got a firsthand blast of Western angst on Tuesday as he heard the complaints of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in separate private meetings.

With the Liberals planning to unveil a Throne Speech on Dec. 5, Trudeau will be meeting with opposition parties this week to look for common ground that will help keep his minority government propped up. The House is expected to sit for about seven days to take care of some routine business and introduce a middle-class tax cut, before breaking for the holidays.

For his meeting, Moe said he arrived in Ottawa in good faith to hear how Trudeau planned to make good on a promise he made on election night: that he understood and would address the frustrations of voters in Alberta and Saskatchewan who elected not a single Liberal MP between them on Oct. 21.

“I can tell you this, I did not hear that there was going to be anything different. I heard more of the same,” a disgruntled Moe told reporters after the meeting.

Moe brought the carbon tax to the top of the agenda as he met with Trudeau. Saskatchewan has been pursuing a legal case against the federal policy, arguing that it infringes on provincial jurisdiction.

Moe was also vocal about the carbon tax in his media availability after the meeting with Trudeau, saying he had asked Trudeau to “pause” the tax, which the prime minister rebuffed.

“We don’t see a commitment with respect to moving forward and putting a pause on the federally imposed carbon tax on industries in the provinces,” said Moe. “We have had a very trying harvest in Saskatchewan… there are some farmers that will have some very large carbon tax bills that are coming on the grain-drying costs.”

Moe also complained about the equalization program, saying it was unfair to provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. His neighbour to the west, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, has threatened to hold a provincial referendum that would force a negotiation on the federal equalization program if the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion isn’t built.

Moe said the issue of “getting our goods to market,” was the third item he raised with Trudeau.


Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2019.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

The meeting with Scheer began with an awkward handshake and photo opportunity as the two men transition from a fractious election campaign last month to the forced collegiality of a minority Parliament. As the cameras rolled, the two men stood about two feet apart with tight smiles, before shooing the media out of the meeting room.

Scheer and Trudeau spoke about their mutual desire for a middle-class tax cut, the ratification of the USMCA trade deal with the United States and the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a senior Liberal adviser said. Scheer told Trudeau that Canadians don’t trust that he’ll build the pipeline, with Trudeau responding that the sole reason the government bought the pipeline was to get it built.

“You could help us,” Trudeau told Scheer.

Trudeau and Scheer also found common ground on a home renovation tax credit.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Scheer said he was happy to lay out his priorities but emphasized that it was the prime minister’s job to get his Throne Speech passed in the House.

“It’s not up to us to support this government,” said Scheer, in French. “The responsibility lies with Mr. Trudeau when it comes to finding common ground.”

Andrew Scheer with Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2019.

Patrick Doyle/Reuters

The Conservative leader did lay out some more areas where he thinks the Liberal priorities overlap with his own. Both parties promised hefty middle-class tax cuts during the campaign, which cost roughly the same amount, although they would be implemented in different ways and have slightly different outcomes. The Liberal tax plan was slightly more generous to taxpayers at the lower end of the income scale and would take about 700,000 people off the federal income tax rolls completely.

Scheer also mentioned plans for subway line expansions in Toronto and tax-free benefits for parental leave as areas where the Liberal policy could be appealing to the Conservative Party.

One area where the Liberal government and the Conservative opposition are sure to disagree is over previously-passed legislation that affects the energy sector. Scheer said he wants Trudeau to repeal Bill C-69, the legislation that overhauls the review process for major energy projects, and Bill C-48, which imposes an oil tanker moratorium off the north of B.C.’s coast. Both bills have attracted widespread opposition in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“I specifically mentioned that those two pieces of legislation were aimed, if you take him at his word, at instilling confidence in the energy sector,” said Scheer. “We can see with the billions of dollars leaving Canada to build energy projects in other countries that those two pieces of legislation have not had the desired impact. They are certainly leading to the uncertainty and the lack of confidence in the energy sector.”

Scheer’s other demands included a task force on a proposed cross-Canada energy corridor, stronger penalties for ethics violations and a single tax return for Quebecers, which were all highly-publicized Conservative campaign promises. Notably, the Conservative demands did not include any mention of the carbon tax, which Scheer had said during the campaign he would repeal if his party formed government.

• Email: sxthomson@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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