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



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.


  • 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)


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.


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821

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Biden and Putin to hold video call on Tuesday, will discuss Ukraine



U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a video call on Tuesday to deal with military tensions over Ukraine other topics.

Biden wants to discuss U.S. concerns about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border, a U.S. source said on Saturday, as well as strategic stability, cyber and regional issues.

“We’re aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday as he departed for a weekend trip to Camp David. “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” he said.

The two will also talk about bilateral ties and the implementation of agreements reached at their Geneva summit in June, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

“The conversation will indeed take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “Bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the realisation of the agreements reached in Geneva are the main (items) on the agenda,” he said.

More than 94,000 Russian troops are massed near Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday that Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive for the end of January, citing intelligence reports.

Biden will reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the U.S. source said. The exact timing of the call was not disclosed. The White House declined to comment.

The U.S. president on Friday said he and his advisers are preparing a comprehensive set of initiatives aimed at deterring Putin from an invasion. He did not give further details, but the Biden administration has discussed partnering with European allies to impose more sanctions on Russia.

Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up. It has dismissed as inflammatory suggestions that it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.

U.S. officials say they do not know yet what Putin’s intentions are, adding while intelligence points to preparations for a possible invasion of Ukraine, it is unclear whether a final decision to do so has been made.

U.S.-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and U.S. intelligence charges of meddling in the 2016 election won by now-former President Donald Trump.

But they have become more volatile in recent months.

The Biden administration has asked Moscow to crack down on ransomware and cyber crime attacks emanating from Russian soil, and in November charged a Ukraine national and a Russian in one of the worst ransomware attacks against American targets.

Russia has repeatedly denied carrying out or tolerating cyber attacks.

The two leaders have had one face-to-face meeting since Biden took office in January, sitting down for talks in Geneva last June. They last talked by phone on July 9. Biden relishes direct talks with world leaders, seeing them as a way to lower tensions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister ” Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm earlier this week that the United States and its European allies would impose “severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine.”

(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in WashingtonEditing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell)

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Meet the recipients of the new Women in Politics scholarship – The Signal



Dalhousie award created to encourage more women to enter male dominated field

Having more women at the decision-making table is important for Claire Belliveau.

“If we have male dominated rooms, we’re going to have male dominated issues, as easy as that,” said Belliveau.

Belliveau, along with Charlotte Bourke, are the first recipients of the new Women in Politics scholarship at Dalhousie.

Belliveau is in her fourth year at Dalhousie, studying political science and law, justice and society. She has been involved in politics since she was 18, working for Environment Minister Tim Halman. Belliveau is the community outreach co-ordinator at Halman’s constituency office.

Being a young woman in politics has not always been easy for Belliveau. She recalls instances where people questioned her abilities due to her age and times when male peers would take credit for her ideas.

Despite these challenges, Belliveau has found support among other women in the field. One thing she found interesting was how women in politics support each other despite party alliance.

“It’s so nice to see how much these women want to see other women succeed, in a male dominated field,” she said.

Belliveau would like to pursue a career in government as an analyst, contributing to policy development in education and the environment.

Bourke is also a fourth-year political science student with an interest in environmental politics. Her main research interests are social and environmental policies and she is studying ways to create fairer climate adaptation plans.

Bourke is unsure about her plans after graduation, but she knows it will involve politics, social issues and the environment.

Charlotte Bourke walks up the steps to the Henry Hicks Building, where the political science department is located, on Nov. 13, 2021.   Gabrielle Brunette

The scholarship serves to encourage, support and inspire young women in their political aspirations. It was established by Grace Evans and Sarah Dobson, co-authors of On Their Shoulders: The Women who Paved the Way in Nova Scotia Politics.

The book addresses the gender gap by showcasing the first and only 50 women at the time, to have served as MLAs in the province. The book highlights the importance of female representation in municipal politics and all proceeds go towards funding the new scholarship.

In 2021, women and gender-diverse people make up only 36 per cent of the legislative assembly in Nova Scotia.

Of 55 MLAs, 19 are women, one is gender-diverse and 35 are men.

“People often don’t want to enter a realm where they can’t see themselves reflected. I think it’s hard for young women to become interested in politics if they don’t see their peers there,” Evans said.

The scholarship will run for as long as there is funding. Every year, two students will be awarded $1,000 each.

“There’s not a lot of scholarships, to my knowledge, geared specifically towards poli sci students, let alone women in poli sci,” Bourke said.

Evans said they are looking to expand the scholarship beyond funding to create a network of people. She and Dobson have been working in politics for a few years and have made many connections they would like to share with the recipients.

Receiving the scholarship was rewarding for Bourke, who felt like all her hard work was being acknowledged.

“It’s kind of just like a relief and a push forward to be like, oh wow I am being recognized, this is really cool, people actually think that I’m good enough, or they actually want me here. It feels sort of welcoming,” she said.

Charlotte Bourke is a fourth-year political science student, minoring in environmental studies.   Gabrielle Brunette

Belliveau was honoured to receive a scholarship designed to encourage women, like herself, who want a career in politics.

“It was just really motivating, especially from Sarah and Grace, knowing how much they care about young women in politics, knowing how much they care about the history and seeing more young women join the field,” she said.

“They’re acknowledging how important it is to have those voices at the table.”

For both women, winning the scholarship has given them a boost of confidence.

Belliveau said it has pushed her to apply for other opportunities, something she hopes other young women in politics will be encouraged to do as well.

“Apply for every scholarship, apply for fellowships, apply for the jobs you don’t think you qualify for because … men are doing it and they get them all the time, so why shouldn’t you?” she said.

“So, take advantage of everything you can and just enjoy the ride, stand your ground and don’t be afraid to speak up.”

Gabrielle Brunette

Gabrielle is a journalist for the Signal at the University of King’s College. She completed her BAH in political studies at Queen’s University.

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Playing Politics With Democracy? – Forbes



On December 9 and 10, President Biden will host the first of two Summits for Democracy to “set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today.” How do Americans see the threat to democracy in the US now? And do partisans see the health of our democracy differently?

In October, Grinnell College asked them this directly. Fifty-two percent said American democracy was under a very serious threat and 29% under a minor threat. Only 14% perceived no threat. Other polls with differently worded questions produce similar impressions of a democracy in need of serious rehabilitation. In a November poll, Monmouth University pollsters found that 8% thought the US system of government was basically sound and needed no improvement, 35% basically sound but needing some improvement, 26% not too sound and needing many improvements, and 30% not too sound and in need of significant changes. And a late October–early November poll of 18–29 year olds from Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) finds that 7% of them describe US democracy as healthy, 27% somewhat functioning, 39% as in trouble, and 13% as failed.

In 2018, 2019, and again in 2021, Public Agenda, as part of the Daniel Yankelovich Democracy Initiative, asked people identical questions about democracy’s health. In the May 2021 poll, 14% said American democracy was doing well, 50% facing serious challenges but not in crisis, and 36% in crisis. The results were similar to their 2018 and 2019 polls.  

In all of these new polls, Democrats were more positive about democracy’s health than were Republicans. In the 2021 Public Agenda survey, Democrats were less likely to see a crisis than Republicans, 25% to 48%. However, in their 2018 and 2019 polls taken during the Trump years, far more Democrats than Republicans said the system was in crisis. In the October 2021 Grinnell poll, 71% of Republicans compared to 35% of Democrats saw the threat as major. In the Monmouth poll, partisans in both parties thought improvements were necessary, but twice as many Republicans as Democrats (38% to 15%) said the system was not sound at all and needed significant changes. In the Harvard IOP poll, 18–29 year old Democrats were more optimistic about democracy, too. There is a clear disconnect between Democratic elites in the media and academia who regularly opine about a US democracy’s decline and the views of rank-and-file Democrats.

This pattern is reversed when we look at questions about the events of January 6 and subsequent investigations as the new edition of the AEI Polling Report shows. Democrats profess much more concern than Republicans about what happened that day and are more eager to see the work of the January 6 congressional committee continue. In a mid-October online Morning Consult/Politico poll, 81% of Democrats compared to 18% of Republicans approved of the special congressional committee to investigate the events that occurred at the US Capitol on January 6. And in a mid-October Quinnipiac University poll, 40% wanted to hear more, but 56% said enough was already known about what led to the storming of the Capitol. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats wanted to hear more compared to 22% of Republicans and 38% of independents. Still, it is significant that nearly four in 10 (38%) Democrats said enough is known already, indicating some fatigue with the investigation.

There are some obvious reasons Democrats would feel better about our democracy than Republicans. They control both chambers of Congress, there’s a Democrat in the White House, and expressing confidence in American democracy is a way of showing support for the party and the president as the polls above suggest. And Democrats will continue to hammer away at anything to do with Donald Trump.

The polls suggest that concerns about democracy have not diminished people’s willingness to participate in the system — at least in terms of voting. Eighty percent in the Grinnell poll said they would definitely vote in the 2024 election for president and other offices and only 7% said they probably would not. What’s more, 91% of Democrats and 88% of Republicans in the survey said that it was very important for the United States to remain a democracy. Five percent nationally said it was fairly important, 4% just somewhat, and 3% not important. When you care deeply about something as Americans do about democracy, you worry at its erosion. But today, this concern has a deep partisan overlay.

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