If a new Angus Reid Poll is an accurate snapshot of where the country is today, then we are — as the first George Bush used to say — “in deep doo-doo.” According to the poll, the majority of Canadians believe that “the worst are full of passionate intensity,” while “the best lack all conviction.” Jaideep Mukerji, the vice president of Angus Reid, summarized the results of the poll:
According to results obtained to date, only 20 per cent of Canadians can be described as “invigorated” by the current political scene and these are almost exclusively Conservatives — happy with politics the way it is, as long as their chosen party is in power, the poll found. “That’s Stephen Harper’s base, right there,” Mukerji said.
The other 80 per cent were scattered between mistrust, cynicism and alienation, with only 13 per cent described as hopeful, “mid-left” voters. These were the type more likely to say that politics was a positive force and that government’s job was to help out people less fortunate.
By far, the largest clump of voters were found at the mistrustful middle, in which well over 80 per cent agreed that politicians were less honest and that current political leadership in Canada was disappointing. No one party has an advantage with these voters — roughly 30 per cent are leaning Conservative, 30 per cent are leaning NDP and 20 per cent are leaning Liberal.
“No political party has enough of a base on their own to be able to satisfy the middle,” Mukerji says.
The results do not bode well for voter turnout. We are a country which has known passionate debates before — the 1980 Quebec referendum among them. But we survived that turbulence because Canadians were engaged in their nation’s politics. It would appear that the politics of personal destruction — and I’m thinking of those five years of Conservative attack ads — have left us in a political wasteland.
But, regardless of who is responsible, the country is now literally in our hands. Only we can change it. Or, as Yeats accurately predicted, the centre will not hold.
Owen Gray grew up in Montreal, where he received a B. A. from Concordia University. After crossing the border and completing a Master’s degree at the University of North Carolina, he returned to Canada, married, raised a family and taught high school for 32 years. Now retired, he lives — with his wife and youngest son — on the northern shores of Lake Ontario. This post is cross posted from his blog.