OTTAWA, May 5 /CNW/ - Stephen Harper's majority comes with clear boundaries.  The election's dramatic results - particularly the Orange Wave - do not signal a tectonic shift in Canadian politics towards a two-party state, rather the vote was a singular event based on a specific set of circumstances. These are the major findings of the first nationwide qualitative study of Canadian voters' hopes, fears and expectations of the new Parliament released today by Ensight Canada.

On Tuesday, May 3 - less than 24 hours after the polls closed - Ensight Canada conducted a qualitative study of voters in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. It included new Canadians, parents, urban professionals and baby boomers.  For the first time, it also assembled online panels of young voters and rural voters across the country.

"Canadians have given Prime Minister Harper permission to go full steam ahead on the economy," said Jaime Watt, Ensight Canada Principal. "However, he does not have carte blanche to pursue an ideologically driven agenda." Jack Layton won his victory because voters were not happy with the alternatives.  Voters want him to earn his position as Leader of the Opposition and they will not tolerate him acting like a Prime Minister in waiting.

Among the other key findings:

While voters were firm in their desire to see public health care maintained, many were receptive to the idea of Harper exploring private involvement to improve quality and contain costs.

Unlike 2006 and 2008, this time Canadians had minority fatigue. They crave stability and action on the economy.  They blamed Michael Ignatieff for triggering the election, although Harper did not escape entirely unscathed.

The so-called ethics issue had virtually no electoral impact, the result of an ineffective messenger flogging a tired message to an electorate fed up with political games.

The Orange Wave is inextricably linked to Jack Layton's personal popularity - not the NDP platform - and to a large extent resulted from Canadians' embrace of his positive message and tone.

Memories of the Rae government in Ontario and unhappiness with the current Nova Scotia NDP government blunted the Orange Wave in both provinces.

Quebec voters share other Canadians' economic concerns, and want to park sovereignty - but in Quebec City, not Ottawa.       

Voters did not "rise up." Michael Ignatieff failed to offer them a reason why they should. The Liberal brand is damaged but remains strong, but unlike 2008, there is no clear choice for a new leader. 

"Tolerance for hyper-partisanship and political nastiness is at an all time low," said Peter Landry, Ensight Canada Consultant. "Canadians expect this majority parliament to end that. They expect a fundamental change in tone from their elected representatives."

"Some pundits claim they see an American-style polarization among Canadians in these numbers. That's not what voters told us," said Robin Sears, Ensight Canada Principal. "Canadians want strong economic management and centrist government." 

About Ensight Canada
Ensight Canada specializes in government relations and stakeholder management at the strategic level. Ensight Canada was created out of a strategic partnership between Navigator Ltd and Enterprise Canada, two of the country's leading research, strategic communications and government relations firms. Designed to serve clients in today's tough regulatory atmosphere, Ensight Canada was created to provide clients with a team experienced at delivering results in Ottawa, and disciplined by the new era of accountability. 

SOURCE Ensight Canada

For further information:

Chris Eby
(416) 642-5000

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Ensight Canada

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