Are Canadians more conservative?

This little item caught my eye on Friday and interested me primarily because some of the usual suspects interpreted it as a sign that reproductive liberty is about to take a hit.

According to a recent poll released by the conservative “Manning Centre” (just for fun, let’s imagine it was commissioned by some totally apolitical institution, and for even more fun, let’s imagine we’ve seen the questions and crosstabs and we’re happy), more Canadians who identify as “politically centrist” are down with conservative ideals:

A survey by Allan Gregg of Harris-Decima and Carleton University’s Professor André Turcotte concludes that while a majority of Canadians identify with the “centre” position on the political ideology scale, this centre is increasingly embracing “traditionally conservative values.”

So here we are, a mass of centrists leaning ever so slightly rightward:

Canada has always been politically-centrist, gently swinging left or right depending on the issue and the era; and apparently we are currently in a right-leaning era.   As much as I hate to blame (or credit, depending how you look at it) the baby boom, aging boomers probably have something to do with it.  A massive population of people who were railing against materialism and filthy lucre 40 years ago are now retiring to enjoy viciously capitalist hobbies like day trading.  W00T!  Freedom 55!

But that doesn’t cut to the nut of the responses that have socons wetting themselves, the ones about abortion and marriage.  Apparently 75% of centrists believe abortion is “morally” wrong, and 80% think heteros own the institution of marriage.  The marriage response is definitely an “old person” thing — that train has long since left the station and the young, to their everlasting credit, do not feel that way:

The abortion response just shows that believing something is “wrong” doesn’t necessarily mean actively opposing it.  Looky here:  only 31% of Canadians and 21% of centrists felt that government should play a major role in “regulating morality” (regulating morality?  Good grief.):

Veddy intuddesting.  It seems to be that same 31%, decade in and decade out, that want to bring the government back into our bedrooms.   But if they’re thinking they can count on centrists for support in this endeavour, they better think again.

This poll reminds me of a Gallup poll that was done last year in the US, a far more socially conservative country than Canada.  The poll revealed that a narrow majority of Americans — 51% — self-identified as “pro-life”.   It was celebrated at dives like Nurse Stanek’s Fetopia and Placentaburger Drive-Thru;  what wasn’t discussed was the other poll taken around the same time that showed 68% of Americans do not support overturning Roe v. Wade.   So close and yet so far…

What’s it all mean, fer Jebus’ sake!??  Just that not all of those who consider themselves “pro-life”, or who think abortion is “wrong”, are in favour of pushing their personal views on others using the coercive power of the state:

But it also found only 21 per cent of self-identified political centrists wanted to see government play a “major role” regulating individual behaviour and morality, suggesting Canadians have a strong libertarian streak on social issues.

And when push comes to shove, that’s all that matters.

10 Responses to “Are Canadians more conservative?”

  1. 1 ck Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    I’ve been troubled by that for so long now. Long before that Manning center poll. Almost, like the Americans, we’re regressing.

    I am not even sure there is such thing as a ‘centrist’ anymore. I also think the term ‘red tory’ is rapidly becoming extinct. It appears that they’ve all been led on Steve’s sharp right turn.

    Even people who used to vote Liberal are telling me they think Stevie is doing a good enough job for them. thing is, give ’em a Harpercon majority, I guarantee Canada will become a terrifying place to live.

  2. 2 Torontonian Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Given the bias of the Manning Centre report, I’d not put
    too much stock into it.

    There’s quite a lot of bias in the questions and framing
    of such questions so as to suggest the answer. It’s almost
    like leading questions in court or a biased interrogation

    Look again at the questions and ask yourself: How would
    a liberal ask such a question, if at all?

    Once you’ve done that, you’ll realise that the Manning
    report is just a waste of paper and time.

    It’s a sly technique introducing wedge issues as questions
    and expect respondents to answer in the anticipated way.
    Take the bias out of the questions and you have no Manning
    centre report.

    Liberals frame their questions more fairly.

    Conservatives have a thing to learn from honesty.

    The decline of liberalism started in the 1980s with the
    rise of Reaganism and Thatcherism. Along came the Moral
    Majority and the decline of US influence in the world
    that led up to the rise of Reagan and the fall from grace
    of Carter.

    Reaganism started the whole ball rolling and it has kept up
    across the continent.

    When did we see the first modern food banks? The 1980s
    and who was president? Reagan.

    That was the start of it all and the disappearance of
    the middle class–which I predicted in the mid -70s started
    to pick up pace at the same time.

    One thing begets another and it’s still going on.

    The general cheapening of society is a product of the 1980s.
    It’s the Walmarting of society.
    Remember when planes were worth flying on and you were truly
    served? Remember common courtesy?

    The Manning report is just a biased paper–like the National Post and Toronto Sun and most of talk radio.

  3. 3 ck Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Torontonian, you’re probably right. After all, here in CAnada, if society were as progressive as we liked to think, if a party like the N.D.P. ever had a shot of wininng, it would have been back in the 80s, under Ed Broadbent, (who was arguably the strongest leader that party ever ever had) after Trudeaumania was gone and John Turner sank the Liberals. But no, instead, Mulroney would go on to win 2 massive majorities.

    I don’t get it though: the Thatcher and Reagan brand did cause economic difficulties in the 80s and 90s. In fact, according to (I forget who, he interviewed so many in his movie) the movie ‘Capitalism a Love Story”, some Moore interviewed argued that the global recession today started with Reaganomics.

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

  4. 4 J. A. Baker Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 5:17 am

    There’s quite a lot of bias in the questions and framing of such questions so as to suggest the answer.

    What? The Manning Centre does push polling? Perish the thought! 🙂

  5. 5 J. A. Baker Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Gah! Wrong smiley! I meant this: 😛

  6. 6 Torontonian Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 5:56 am


    One thing that happened during the ’80s and later was the
    end of full time employment. Many employers started to
    hire workers and not allow them the full hours to qualify
    for Employment Insurance and contribute to the Canada Pension Plan or contribute to the Health Insurance scheme of the jurisdiction.

    Granted it did save the employer a lot of money in payroll costs and employer contributions, but it meant that it created an
    underclass of worker. Such a worker had no benefit of EI and
    had no real CPP contributions to look forward to at retirement.
    This practise impoverished many and forced so many to take two or three jobs just to stay solvent. The expense on the family
    fabric is difficult to measure until you look at divorces, bankruptcies, mental health and other outcomes.

    Your point is well taken about Broadbent. Here’s something to consider about Mulroney and the Conservatives. Mulroney split the Conservatives into three parties–remember the BQ!
    If all those parties reunited, we’d have a conservative government right now. Mulroney’s legacy of a pizza parliament
    means we will nearly always have a minority government and right now we don’t have a government in the true sense of the word.

    The Liberals and NDP truly do need magentic leaders a la Tommy Douglas or Stanley Knowles or Ed Broadbent or (for the Liberals) Pierre Trudeau.

    Quite frankly, there’s not one single inspiring leader in this country. Harper isn’t inspiring. He’s not even honest with the public.

    As long as we’ll put up with a Walmarted society and a dissembling government, we deserve what comes out way.

    Now it’s time for us to start to do something to truly change the national picture and re-establish our rightful place on the world stage.

  7. 7 JJ Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 9:47 am


    I’ve been troubled by that for so long now. Long before that Manning center poll. Almost, like the Americans, we’re regressing.

    I wouldn’t be too troubled by it, as long as everyone remembers that the government needs to stay out of our personal lives, which appears to be the case.

    These swings to the right and left happen every generation or so — in 1984 the Conservatives won federally by a huge majority, and held it for 8 years.

  8. 8 JJ Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 9:49 am


    Given the bias of the Manning Centre report, I’d not put too much stock into it.

    That was what my little caveat at the beginning was about. A lot depends on how the questions are framed.

  9. 9 JJ Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 10:00 am


    if a party like the N.D.P. ever had a shot of wininng, it would have been back in the 80s,

    The 80s me might have been okay with that, but not the 2010 me. The NDP is admirably progressive on social issues, but they are also huge nanny statists: wear your helmet, fasten your seatbelt, ban all firearms, we need to protect you from yourself, blah blah blah 🙄

    I guess that makes me an example of someone who’s shifted to the right 😯 😛

  10. 10 JJ Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 10:05 am


    What? The Manning Centre does push polling?

    No more than the Heritage Foundation 😛

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