Thursday, January 31, 2008

Law and Order

In a recent Canwest news article I was quoted as saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to no longer seek clemency for Canadian citizens on death row in the United States was good politics.

It was good politics, I argued, because "law and order" issues play well to Harper's base. I remember the reporter who interviewed me was skeptical about this because, after all, Canada is such a liberal country.

Well lo and behold a recent poll shows that 53 percent of Canadians support the government's position on this.

What's more, support for revoking clemency is highest in British Columbia (61 per cent) and Alberta (58 per cent) which just happen to be the two provinces where a large chunk of the Conservative base resides.

So maybe the lesson from all this is that Harper should play to his base a little more.


Anonymous said...

Gerry - I am really really getting quite tired of pundits who keep saying that "Harper is playing to his base" when he makes any decisions.
Since when is doing the right thing "playing"??? and what base are you all talking about? Is there one great big homogenis group of people who all walk lock step in some kind of idealogical parade?

Or, is it more likely that conservatives, small or large C like practical decisions and good management without pandering to special interests like the Liberals.

In my opinion Harper's "base" is Canadian men,women and children - with ho hyphens.

Miles Lunn said...

I agree with anonymous. Pandering to one's base is silly as most Canadians are moderate middle of the road and don't blindly follow any ideology. Very few Canadians are right wing or left wing on every single issue, rather most of us are right wing on some issues, centrist on others, and left wing on others.

As for the death penalty issue, although over 40% say they want it brought back, it seems to sink politicians everytime they bring it up so I cannot see it as any winning issue. The only reason this won't Harper as much as if he brought he back is there are some Canadians who oppose the death penalty, but at the same time believe we should stay out of other's affairs. Since the murder in question committed the crimes in the United States, some believe it is up to the Americans not us to decide his punishment. Off course a large part of the population is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances in every part of the world.

Janet said...

Pandering to one's base is silly as most Canadians are moderate middle of the road and don't blindly follow any ideology.

Most Canadians don't volunteer to get out the vote on e-day and deliver the hardest-fought seats in Parliament to the party who has kept their base happy enough to keep working for them.

Philosophically it might not make any sense, politically it's critical.

Harper is doing his best to win over the moderate, middle of the road men, women and children with the watered down, non-committal, polling company inspired policies we've seen over the past two years.

Miles Lunn said...

I should also point out how is trying to please provinces where the Tories already hold the majority of seats going to help the party. Wouldn't it make more sense to go after provinces that they don't have seats, since you don't win a majority by increasing your margin in held seats, but by picking up new seats.

I also disagree with the idea of British Columbia being a conservative province. Unlike Ontario who only elected the NDP once, BC has elected them three times. I would rather argue that BC is a very polarized province with a stronger ideological right wing element, but also a stronger ideological left wing element.