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Alberta Politics: NDP holds slight lead in vote intention over UCP – Angus Reid Institute

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Most would-be NDP voters support some form of provincial sales tax


March 12, 2021 – The urgency to revive Alberta’s ailing economy has once again raised debate over whether the province should continue to hold onto its “Alberta Advantage” as the only province in Canada without a provincial or harmonized sales tax, or whether a PST would generate enough government revenue to stave off belt-tightening or growing deficits.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds that while a majority of Albertans continue to say “no” to the prospect of a provincial sales tax, political factors may be coalescing in a way that could possibly make the PST a less verboten concept in the future.

Currently, three-in-five (62%) say the province should not introduce any form of PST. Given that Premier Jason Kenney has previously stated that the PST would not be implemented without a referendum, the policy seems unlikely to be introduced under the UCP.

However, a significant segment of Albertans – 38 per cent – say they would support a tax at various levels, from one per cent to more than five per cent.

The political dynamics of the province add to the complexity of the issue. The opposition NDP under Rachel Notley now leads Kenney’s UCP by the slightest of margins in vote intention, 41 to 38 per cent respectively.

Notably, supporters of the NDP, are much more inclined to support the PST. Two-thirds (64%) of those who say they would support Rachel Notley’s party if an election were held also say that they would support some version of this tax.

More Key Findings:

  • Younger Albertans are more amenable to a PST. Half (52%) between the ages of 18 and 34 support a PST introduction of at least one to two per cent. A majority of those ages 35-54 (63%) and 55 and older (76%), however, are opposed to it.
  • Voter retention is a key story at the midway mark of the UCP term. Just 71 per cent of those who supported Jason Kenney’s party in 2019 say they would again at this point, while the NDP has retained 96 per cent of its base.
  • The UCP scores more negatively than positively on all 13 areas of government performance canvassed in this survey.

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting, and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

INDEX:

  • Which issues matter most in Alberta?

  • UCP government struggles across a number of files

  • Most are against a PST, but younger people are on the fence

  • NDP makes gains, leads by three points in vote intention

Which issues matter most in Alberta?

For Albertans, one key aspect of life is prioritized most: economic growth. Asked for their top issues facing the province, both the economy overall and jobs and unemployment are chosen ahead of all others. Notably, COVID-19 response ranks fifth.

The message is clear from Albertans: do what is needed to boost the economy. Low oil prices and reduced economic activity from the pandemic have wreaked havoc on the economy. The province projects an $18 billion deficit for this year and the total provincial debt is projected to swell to more than $115 billion. Only Newfoundland and Labrador currently has a worse unemployment rate in Canada.

UCP government struggles across a number of files

Albertans have become more critical of Premier Jason Kenney throughout the pandemic, and their assessment of his performance appears to extend to most areas of provincial government.

The Angus Reid Institute asked respondents to assess 13 separate areas of provincial governance. As seen in the table below, there is no issue where the UCP receives a more positive than negative assessment:

Indeed, Albertans are among the most negative appraisers in the country as to their provincial government’s handling of their aforementioned top five priorities. Relative to the way Canadians in other provinces view their respective provincial government’s performances, the UCP government performs second worst on the economy and on jobs and unemployment, and worst on COVID-19 response (see summary tables).

Overall government performance score

According to the Angus Reid Institute’s ‘Government Performance Index’, the Alberta government falls below the national average on satisfaction with government. Only Ontario’s government fares worse on this aggregating scale. This index is a measure of the average number of respondents saying that their government has done a good or very good job on each of the 13 issues mentioned above. See summary tables in the full report for contributing data.

Most are against a PST, but younger people are on the fence

The challenges of the past year have necessitated the Kenney government to stray from its political north star. Government spending has greatly increased to both sustain and stimulate the economy.

Springing forth from this tenuous period is the renewal of the debate over a provincial sales tax. Alberta has long been the only province in the country with neither a PST nor a harmonized sales tax. Premier Jason Kenney has previously stated that he would not introduce such a tax without a referendum. For now, it appears that such a referendum would maintain the status quo, as a firm majority of residents are against it. That said, a near-plurality are inclined to say this is a good idea, at various levels of cost:

There are significant pockets of the province where this debate is much more hotly contested. Young people are far more inclined than their older counterparts to support a PST introduction of at least one to two per cent. In fact, half (52%) say the province should do this. Three-quarters of those over the age of 54 disagree:

There are additional divisions based on income level. Those who are most supportive of a PST are from households with an income level of more than $100 thousand. Close to half (45%) say they would like to see a provincial sales tax implemented and one-quarter would like to see it set at three to five per cent. Lower income Albertans lean more toward opposition. Two-thirds with household incomes of less than $50 thousand are opposed. It is notable that sales taxes tend to be regressive, meaning they are disproportionately impactful for lower income households. Some sales tax policies are designed to avoid being applied to basic goods that are needed by lower-income families in order to overcome some of this regressive quality:

While the PST may be unlikely under a UCP government, it is notable that those who currently support the Alberta NDP offer majority support for the tax. Just 36 per cent of those who say they would vote for Rachel Notley’s party say they are opposed to any form of PST:

NDP makes gains, leads by three points in vote intention

A look at the current vote intention picture in Alberta sheds additional light on just why those New Democratic supporters’ opinions are so important. That party now holds a three-point vote intention advantage over the incumbent United Conservative Party. This represents the first time the NDP have had an advantage in vote intent since 2015 (view our vote intention tracker for all provinces here).

The vote intention picture has become increasingly tightened since the pandemic began, after the UCP spent 2019 with a relatively large lead:

One of the keys to the NDP’s success in 2015 was winning in and around Calgary. Though at the time the party had benefitted from vote-splitting between the Wildrose Party and Progressive Conservatives, Rachel Notley and her team won 9 of the 12 seats in Central Calgary and were competitive in the Calgary suburbs. Now, the NDP hold a nine-point advantage in Calgary, alongside a considerable lead in their more traditional support base of Edmonton:

For the UCP, support among men in particular has diminished since the last election. Jason Kenney’s party still leads by a small margin among male voters, but trails among women and those under the age of 35 by a sizeable gap:

While an election is still two years away, vote retention appears to be an important theme at the halfway mark of the UCP term. Close to one-in-three (29%) 2019 UCP voters have gone elsewhere, while the NDP has retained 96 per cent of its support:

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

To read the questionnaire, click here.

Images – CP / SEAN KILPATRICK (left) Edmonton CityNews (right)

Methodology

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from February 26 – March 3, 2021 among a representative randomized sample of 5,004 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The total sample for Alberta is 603; a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI. Detailed tables are found at the end of this release.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org


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Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say

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When former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien met the late Prince Philip for the first time, he told him that for an Englishman, his French was very good.

“He said ‘I’m not English and I’ve spoken French since before you were born,’” Chrétien told the Star Friday, commenting on his many encounters over 50 years with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was not dull, let me put it that way,” Chrétien said. “He had some strong views. Sometimes he had to show discipline to not speak up more than he would have wished.”

Philip, born in Greece in 1921 and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years, died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he first met Philip when he was a little boy, described him as “a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

Former prime ministers and governors general spoke of a man who understood his role and knew not to get involved in politics, but who was very knowledgeable about Canada and took a keen interest in the country’s success.

“I was always impressed by their knowledge,” Chrétien said of Philip and the Queen, Canada’s head of state.

He said he can recall Philip asking about the prospect of Quebec separating from the rest of the country. “Not in a very political fashion, just in terms of interest. Of course he was interested to not see Canada break up. He would certainly say that to me.”

 

Statements from former prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper highlighted Philip’s devotion to the Canadian armed forces and charitable organizations, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an international self-development program for young people.

Former governors general David Johnston and Michaëlle Jean, through their role as the Queen’s representative in Canada, were also able to get to know Philip more intimately, particularly at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Jean recalls being “overwhelmed” by all the protocol recommendations ahead of a Balmoral visit with her husband and six-year-old daughter prior to taking office in 2005, only to find Philip and the Queen greeting them at the door, with Philip paying special attention to her daughter.

“The memory I keep of Prince Philip is that of an affable, caring, elegant and warm man,” Jean told the Star, adding he was a man who was very attentive to detail.

She recalled attending a barbecue on the Balmoral estate, just the four of them, and Philip telling her, “Don’t forget to congratulate Her Majesty for her salad dressing, because she made it herself.”

What Jean also saw was a man sometimes hampered by the limitations of his role, like when he talked about one of his favourite topics, the environment.

“He said ‘I do a lot about it, I raise awareness, I take actions…I feel that whatever I do, no one cares,’” Jean recounted. “What I got from that is how lonely he felt…There was a sense of not feeling appreciated in proportion to his contributions, a feeling of being misunderstood.”

Johnston, who succeeded Jean, said Canada’s constitutional monarchy — where the head of state is politically neutral and separate from elected office — is an “important and precious” form of government, and Philip was key to making it work.

Philip showed leadership as a servant, Johnston said, “not taking centre stage, but by ensuring that the Queen and the monarchy were front row and centre.

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“He played such an important structural role, and did that with great diligence and commitment. He was selfless in that respect,” Johnston said in an interview.

For Matthew Rowe, who works on the Royal Family’s charitable endeavours in Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s political value to Canada was precisely that he was not political — that he, along with the rest of the monarchy, provided a stabilizing force outside of the partisan fray.

He was dynamic, irascible, exasperating, intriguing. And he was always three steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who utterly adored him throughout their 73-year marriage, flaws, faux pas and all.

“His presence, and the role of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family, has been to be able to represent the nation, to represent Canadian interests, and commemorate Canadian achievements without being tied to a particular political ideology or regional faction,” Rowe, who met Philip at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2010, said in an interview.

 

Philip’s role meant he could speak more frankly than the Queen in public, and spoke “quite thoughtfully” about the constitutional monarchy in Canada, said University of Toronto history instructor Carolyn Harris.

At a press conference in Ottawa in 1969, Philip famously said that the monarchy doesn’t exist “in the interests of the monarch…It exists solely in the interest of the people. We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

Philip had a good, joking relationship with Johnston’s wife, Sharon. He recounted how the two joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in August 2010, prior to Johnston’s swearing-in later that year.

One evening, they were returning to the castle from a barbecue at a renovated shepherd’s hut on the estate — just the four of them, the Queen driving with Johnston in one land rover, and Philip driving with Sharon in the other ahead of them on narrow, highland roads.

“We were coming home at about 10 p.m., as black as could be, he and Sharon were ahead, kind of weaving, and we could hear these gales of laughter coming out. They were cracking jokes at one another,” Johnston said.

“I had a vision of him going over the edge and down half a mile into the valley, and my first thought is: Do the Queen and I rustle down to rescue them?”

Chrétien said “it must be terrible” for the Queen to now find herself alone after a marriage that lasted for more than 70 years. He noted it’s been almost seven months to the day since he lost his wife, Aline.

 

“It’s a big change in life but she’s an extremely courageous person and she will face the situation with the strength that she has been able to show to the world for the almost 70 years she’s been queen,” Chrétien said.

With files from Alex Boutilier and Kieran Leavitt

 

 

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After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., softened his stance on corporations’ getting involved in politics Wednesday, a day after he warned companies not to weigh in on hot button issues.

“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell told reporters. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.

“They got intimidated into adopting an interpretation … given by the Georgia Democrats in order to help get their way,” he said.

McConnell was referring to a controversial voting law recently passed in Georgia, which came about in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the election result in the state last fall.

The law led the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola — which are based in Atlanta — to condemn the measure. And last week, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest. The game will, instead, be played in Colorado.

In recent weeks, McConnell has excoriated corporate America for boycotting states over various GOP-led bills. He said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues but noted that his criticism did not extend to their donations.

“So my warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s greatest political debates.”

Major League Baseball’s decision drew the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and other companies that spoke out against the Georgia law. McConnell said Tuesday that the latest moves are “irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

McConnell, long a champion of big money in politics, however, noted Tuesday that corporations “have a right to participate in a political process” but said they should do so without alienating “an awful lot of people.”

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law that passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Source:- NBC News

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Facebook Removes 1,000 Fake Accounts Seeking to Sway Global Politics

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(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway politics around the world, including in Iran and El Salvador, while misleading the public about their identity.

Most of the removed networks were in the early stages of building their audiences, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Tuesday. Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, part of its monthly reporting on efforts to rid its platforms of fake accounts, represents one of the larger crack downs by the company in recent months.

“We have been growing this program for several years,” said David Agranovich, Facebook’s global threat disruption lead. “I would expect to see this drum beat of take downs to continue.”

In one example, the company removed a network of more than 300 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and the photo-sharing app Instagram that appear to be run by a years-old troll farm located in Albania and operated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group. The group appeared to target Iran, but also other audiences with content about Iran, according to a report released by Facebook.

The group was most active in 2017, but increased its activity again in the latter half of 2020. It was one of a handful of the influence campaigns that likely used machine learning technologies capable of creating realistic profile photos to the naked eye, Facebook said in the report.

The company also removed 118 accounts, eight pages and 10 Instagram accounts based in Spain and El Salvador for violating the company’s foreign interference policy. The group amplified criticism of Henry Flores, a mayoral candidate in Santa Tecla, El Savador and supportive commentary of his rivals, the company said.

The social media giant also took down a network of 29 Facebook accounts, two pages, one group and 10 Instagram accounts based in Iran that was targeting Israel. The people behind the network posed as locals and posted criticism about Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Facebook. The company also took down networks based in Argentina, Mexico, Egypt and other nations.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the company has improved its ability to identify inauthentic accounts, but said bad actors continue to change their strategies to avoid Facebook’s detection.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Source:- BNN

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