Avaaz: New Poll Shows Harper Conservatives Face Serious "Democratic Deficit"

Key Points in Harper Agenda Opposed by Majority of Canadians, Even Conservative Voters

OTTAWA, April 20 /CNW/ - Results from a poll commissioned by Avaaz, Canada's largest online civic activism community, point to strong policy differences between Harper Conservatives and Canadians of all political stripes.

Results of the poll, conducted by Environics Research, call into question major policy hallmarks of both the Harper Government and the current Conservative election campaign.

Poll numbers show that 56% of all Canadians (and 42% of Conservative party supporters) oppose reducing corporate taxes - a key part of Harper's former budget proposal.  74% of Canadians - including 64% of Conservatives - support Canada's gun regulations (including the current long gun registry), which Harper has vowed to scrap. And a majority of Canadians who expressed an opinion on the question,say we should keep the current system of public financing for political parties, including 42% Conservative supporters.

"These poll results point to a major democratic deficit in Canada," noted Ricken Patel, Avaaz Executive Director. "Stephen Harper isn't attempting to deliver on the will of Canadians -- even Conservative Canadians -- he's marching to the beat of a different drum. This explains why Harper's campaign ads focus so heavily on personal attacks - his "issues" simply aren't winners in the eyes of most Canadians."

The gap between Harper's platform and Canadian public opinion is especially evident on international issues. Those polled listed environmental issues as a key concern and the Harper Government has a much-disparaged record on this front, in particular receiving widespread international condemnation for helping to scupper UN efforts to address climate change. The poll shows that 82% of Canadians - and 71% of conservatives -support a UN treaty on climate change.

"With such an unpopular agenda, it's no surprise that Harper looks set to lose his bid for a majority government once again," added Patel.

Responding to this democratic deficit, the pro-democracy Avaaz community has voted in an online poll to oppose Harper's reelection. Avaaz will be promoting a strategic voting tool to its 450,000 members across the country - one that helps citizens to identify and vote for opposition candidates most likely to defeat the Conservative candidate in their riding.

The research is based on telephone interviews conducted with a representative sample of 2,000 Canadians (aged 18 plus), between March 30 and April 10, 2011.  A sample of this size drawn from the population will provide results accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, in 19 out of 20 samples.

For more information, visit www.avaaz.ca.

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Poll Results Quick Summary

Decreasing Corporate Taxes

I'd like to ask you about the taxes currently paid by businesses and corporations in Canada today.

Some people/Other people say that it's a good idea to reduce tax rates for Canadian businesses because they will use this extra money to hire more workers and boost the economy in a way that will benefit everyone.

Some people/other people say that it's a bad idea to reduce taxes for Canadian businesses because they already pay relatively low taxes, and cutting them more will increase the deficit and make it harder to pay for public services everyone relies on.

Total
34%  Good idea to reduce corporate taxes
56%  Bad idea to cut corporate taxes          
4%  Depends                                     
6%  DK/NA                                       

Conservative response
49%  Good idea to reduce corporate taxes
42%  Bad idea to cut corporate taxes          
3%  Depends                                      
6%  DK/NA                                          

Opposing UN Climate Treaty

Turning now to the issue of climate change, do you believe that Canada should, or should not, support the United Nation's efforts to secure an international global treaty to stop the future catastrophic impacts of climate change?

Total
82%  Canada should support a UN treaty            
13%  Canada should not support a UN treaty        
1%  Depends                                                    
5%  DK/NA                                                       

Conservative response
71%  Canada should support a UN treaty             
23%  Canada should not support a UN treaty      
2%  Depends                                                 
5%  DK/NA                                                       

Deregulating Gun Ownership

As you may know, there are federal laws in Canada concerning the ownership of firearms. This law requires that Canadians register each firearm that they own, prohibits the ownership of certain kinds of firearms, requires that owners pass a safety test AND a safety check, and requires that firearms are stored unloaded in a secure place.

In general, do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose this law?

Total
54%  Strongly support               
20%  Somewhat support     
9%  Somewhat oppose        
13%  Strongly oppose                                            
1%  Neither support or oppose
3%  DK/NA                                    

Conservative response

Total
40%  Strongly support               
24%  Somewhat support     
13%  Somewhat oppose         
17%  Strongly oppose                                
29%  Neither support or oppose 
4%  DK/NA                                     

Ending Public Financing

Federal political parties are currently funded by a combination of private donations and public funds.  Do you support this current system of private and public funding for political parties, or do you think that political parties should only be supported through private donations?

Total
48%  Support current mix of private and public funding             
43%  Support private funding only                                      
1%  Depends                                                          
8%  DK/NA                                                                        

Conservative response
42%  Support current mix of private and public funding          
52%  Support private funding only                                      
2%  Depends                                                          
5%  DK/NA   

Health Care  

I would now like to ask you about Canada's health care system.

Which of the following do you think is better?

Having a public system of health care in which all Canadians are entitled to the same level of access to medically necessary health care services without direct charges

or

Having a two-tier system in which there is both a private system where patients pay directly out of their pockets for faster access to services and a public system

Total
69%  Support a one-tier system             
27%  Support a two-tier system
1%  Depends                                                          
2%  DK/NA                                                                        

Conservative response
60%  Support a one tier system
37%  Support a two tier system
2%  Depends                                                          
2%  DK/NA                                                                   

SOURCE Avaaz

For further information:

Emma Ruby-Sachs, Avaaz, 416-964-8377

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