Fourth of July 2012 way up north .. forget Romney : Obama is twice as popular in Canada as PM Harper!

Jul 4th, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

At first I thought the estimable Ottawa pundit Lawrence Martin had stolen my idea (well, really just beat me to it, of course) for a Canadian Fourth of July 2012 posting.

The Globe and Mail apparently published Martin’s column “Obama Remains Extremely Popular in Canada” yesterday. And it is still worth underlining its main theme: “Barack Obama is ultra popular in Canada, easily one of the most popular presidents in history. A recent Angus Reid poll found that 65 per cent of Canadian voters would vote for him, only 9 per cent for Republican Mitt Romney… So when an analysis gets published by two Canadian heavyweights titled How Obama Lost Canada, people can be forgiven for thinking how the nameplates got mixed up.”

I can update this story a little by noting a parallel Harris-Decima poll published just today: “Canadians prefer Barack Obama to Mitt Romney by almost a seven to one margin. Nationally, 68% would vote for President Obama if they had a vote in the upcoming Presidential election, while 10% would vote for Mitt Romney. President Obama is the preferred choice of a majority of respondents across all regions and demographic groups. Mr. Romney is most popular in the province of Alberta, but even there, Mr. Obama is the preferred choice by a 50%-19% margin.”

Obama family at Jarrett-Balkissoon wedding in Chicago, June 17, 2012.

Similarly, in case you missed the original “analysis … by two Canadian heavyweights [both strong conservative and Conservative partisans, it seems clear enough] titled How Obama Lost Canada,” consult “Obama jilting Canada, plunging relations to new low, says US policy journal.” And, as precursors to Lawrence Martin’s rebuttal, try “Are Canada-US relations on the rocks?” (by Mitch Potter at the Toronto Star) and “Obama hasn’t lost Canada” (a piece by Andrew Cohen in this past Monday’s Ottawa Citizen).

As another kind of variation on the theme you could try another item from this past June 22: “The Obama-McGuinty connection: Good for Canada-US relations? … This past weekend, US president Barack Obama went to the Chicago wedding of Scarborough-Rouge River MPP Bas Balkissoon’s son Tony … The Toronto Star points out that this marriage is only one of several links between Obama and Ontario [Liberal] Premier Dalton McGuinty, Bas Balkissoon’s boss … David Axelrod, another key advisor for Obama, was a McGuinty strategist from 2000 to 2002 … ‘He owes me big time for that,’ McGuinty told reporters in 2008, joking … ” (of course!).

All this said and done, I would just point out a few further straws, blowing quite vigorously in the same “Canada-still-really-loves-Barack-Obama” wind. Consider, eg, recent polling intelligence on Canadians’ feelings about their own Prime Minister Stephen Harper — and his new Conservative Party of Canada. Back on June 18, eg, we heard that “New Democrats Edge Slumping Conservatives in Canada … Across Canada, 35 per cent of decided voters and leaners … would support the NDP in the next federal election, while 34 per cent … would cast a ballot for the Tories … The Liberal Party is third with 19 per cent … ” Then on June 30 it was reported that: “A weighted average of recent polls, on www.threehundredeight.com, puts the NDP ahead of the Conservatives 34.9 percent to 32.7 percent, with the Liberals well back at 20.9 percent.”

* * * *

So … let’s see now. According to various recent polls, some 65% to 68% of Canadians would vote for Barack Obama, compared with 9% to 10% for Mitt Romney. And that apparently means “Canadians prefer Barack Obama to Mitt Romney by almost a seven to one margin.”

From here, it must be logical enough to say that if 33% to 34% of Canadians (in round numbers) also say they would vote for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, while 65% to 68%  would vote for Barack Obama, then Canadians prefer US President Obama to their own Prime Minister Harper by a margin of almost two to one!

Two more sets of statistics for a hot summer day round out this Canadian view of the Fourth of July 2012. The first is a report from yesterday’s edition of the usually rather conservative (and Conservative) National Post : “Michael Den Tandt: Polls show Canada actually more progressive after six years of Tory rule.” This points to the “latest data from pollster Ipsos Reid, part of a wide-ranging examination of popular sentiment for Postmedia News and Global Television,” which suggest that: “If anything the numbers indicate Canadians today are more solidly progressive than we have ever been.”

Mr. Den Tandt’s conclusion here bears underlining as well: “The poll does not even remotely suggest a country that has been pushed rightward, or is being pushed rightward, incrementally or otherwise, by Conservative rule. Nor does it suggest in any way that the Conservatives have a lock on the title of Canada’s new, ‘natural governing party.’ If anything it suggests the Harper government has gotten offside with the majority in some important policy areas, especially with respect to environmental protection … Based on this survey, no one has a lock on [the next fixed-date Canadian federal election in] 2015. It’s wide open.”

Finally, as evidence of certain parallel trends on the other side of the fence, I would point to a Gallup poll from this past February 18, 2012 : “Americans Give Record-High Ratings to Several US Allies.” In particular: “A whopping 96% of Americans have a generally favorable view of Canada, while 3% view it unfavorably. That favorable rating is the highest Gallup has measured for any country in more than 20 years of asking this question. Canada’s 93% ratings in 1987 and 1989 were the previous high favorable for any country.”  (Oh and the exact question here was “What is your overall opinion of [Canada]? Is it very favourable, mostly favourable, mostly unfavourable, or very unfavourable?)

All of which just goes to show that Lawrence Martin must be quite right. Certain partisan political and vested economic and regional interests in Canada may be somewhat annoyed at certain recent political decisions by the Obama administration in Washington, with a presidential election looming. (Mitch Potter has aptly noted “Barack Obama’s ‘mishandling’ of the Keystone XL pipeline as central to the thesis that this president has effectively squandered Canada’s love.” Potter has also noted that the lead author of “How Obama Lost Canada,” former Mulroney Conservative Derek Burney, “has since 2005 served on the board of directors of TransCanada Corp., the company behind Keystone XL. He also owns shares of the company.”)

Yet the everyday “free and democratic” Canadian people, from coast to coast to coast, are as solidly behind this president of the USA today as ever. And in the election year of 2012 the great majority of us — even in the oil-rich province of Alberta (to say nothing of majority French-speaking Quebec) — very happily wish our American brothers and sisters a Happy Fourth of July, even if we don’t quite agree with the world wide web suggestion “lets combine canada day and 4th of july into a four day orgy of liquor and fireworks and drugs.”

(Oh and btw, I have long agreed myself with the late great American-educated Canadian economic historian Harold Innis, who noted back in 1948: “The United States has been described by John Gunther as ‘the greatest, craziest, most dangerous, least stable, most spectacular, least grown up and most powerful and magnificent nation ever known.’” If the American people of 2012 finally do prove crazy enough not to re-elect President Obama this coming Tuesday, November 6, the currently beleaguered Liberal Party of Canada will suddenly be in no doubt at all about its first choice as new party leader. And remember: in Canada you don’t have to be actually born in the country to become Prime Minister. Hawaii is close enough. President Obama has already alluded to this prospect himself. It was a polite local joke no doubt, but … “The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,” and there have already been many “strange things done in the midnight sun … By the men who moil for gold.” Michael Ignatieff from Harvard as Liberal leader in Canada didn’t work. But who can really doubt that Harvard graduate Barack Obama certainly would work, from many different angles!)

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