Friday, March 12, 2010

Defining the Centre

Strange presentation to the Manning Centre's 2010 Conference here in Ottawa by Allan Gregg (he of the infamous 1993 federal election) and Andre Turcotte. I've been waiting for the actual presentation or data to show up on the Manning Centre's site but nothing yet.

The headline and subtitle in The Star suggest a watershed in the Canadian political landscape:

Canadian values shifting to the right, poll suggests
Conservatives now ‘own the centre,’ while the left ‘is a very lonely place to be’ in Canada, pollster says


Heady stuff for a young Tory certainly. Until you actually read the article. Gregg and Turcotte have done a neat little thing. They've simply declared everything Canadians are supportive of to be Conservative! Hurrah! From The Star:

A Harris-Decima survey for the Manning Centre, says Canadians who identify themselves as in the centre of the political ideological scale are increasingly embracing traditionally “conservative” values.

Those include the “supremacy of the family,” an incremental approach to resolving problems, the definition of marriage and that abortion is “morally wrong.”


Pollsters Allan Gregg and Andre Turcotte said that most believe governments should play a minor role or no role in the regulation of individual behaviour and morality.

Anyone note a bit of a disconnect between the second and third paragraphs there? Setting aside the idea that Canadians embrace "the supremacy of the family", "the definition of marriage", and "that abortion is morally wrong" (none of which I believe at all), since when are incremental approaches and governments playing minor roles in individual behaviour and morality Conservative ideas? I thought they just told us that abortion is wrong, marriage is for straight people and the family is supreme (whatever the hell that means). I think the confusion lies in the word conservative being in quotation marks. Gregg and Turcotte are simply saying that conservative values are whatever the hell they say they are. The whole article, and I assume presentation, are like that, slapping together Conservative and conservative principles to capture the widest possible margin of Canadians.

It gets even better:

As for conservative government policies, the poll suggested a majority of Canadians supported spending deficits, abolishing the long gun registry, action on climate change, the decision to leave Afghanistan in 2011, and management of the economic recession.

Ah yes, those Harper policy favourites like stimulus spending, climate change action, and leaving Afghanistan. If only the Liberals would stop prorogueing Parliament and the NDP could get their crime bills through the Bloc Quebecois-controlled Senate...

The article goes on like this. Pollsters are known for their double-speak, but this jumbled mess just takes the cake. Canadians are true blue, but they aren't really that Conservative, just conservative, but centrist really, the left is a lonely place, not like the centre, which is conservative, but not really.

I do hope they release those crosstabs.

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