, 05.24.2019 07:53 AM

Exile on Mainstreet

So, that Mainstreet poll.

On the one hand, I like its founder and the people who work there. My firm has used them in the past.

When the Lavscam scandal broke, however, Mainstreet’s boss took it upon himself to – for lack of a better word – troll each and every opinion I offered on the scandal. In particular, he repeatedly asserted that Lavscam would have little to no effect on Liberal fortunes.

By now, of course, we all know that that is simply not true. Lavscam precipitated a dramatic decline in Liberal support, and the Trudeau Grits have not really recovered.

On the other hand, however, I think we need to take Mainstreet’s latest poll somewhat seriously. It is consistent with a commissioned poll done by Environics, and an earlier poll done by Don Guy’s Pollara, and one that speculated about the effect of a John Tory-led Ontario Liberal party.

But most of all, it reflects what my gut has been telling me for some time – that the Ford folks need to get back the narrative that got them elected nearly a year ago.

It’s a debate that I had with Jerry Agar on Newstalk 1010 early Wednesday morning. There’s no doubt, I said, that Kathleen Wynne’s regime spent recklessly in the final half of its mandate. Equally, there is no doubt that Ford was elected with a clear mandate to cut back on same.

The problem, I told Jerry, is that the cuts lack a coherent underlying story. I reminded him that my boss Jean Chretien oversaw the largest program of government restraint in Canadian history, way back in 1994 and 1995. Chretien pulled that off, and then some. And he was subsequently reelected with a majority.

Ontarians understand that there is a need for cuts. What they clearly don’t understand is why the Ford government is doing them. People are prepared to accept lots of belt-tightening – but you need to be able to tell them why, in 30 words or less.

It’s not too late for the Ford folks to find that short, sharp narrative.

But they need to do so soon, or they may end up being exiled on Mainstreet.

14 Comments

  1. billg says:

    Balanced budgets and Climate Change, everyone is on board until it effects them or they’re asked to actually make a difference.

    • Karl-Milton Marx-Friedman says:

      Knmf here,

      Correct! Which is why:
      1) polling 1920s-style (hyped-flawed old hat methodologies:saying and doing are different things on voting day).

      2) No citizen should be locked into a political party because by doing so you negate your responsibility to think independently of what the party in question wants you to think/do on a random day every 4 years. Ever person that has commandeered a political party as leader knows that. And the parties do not want citizens to have access to the information needed to be independent judges…at the moment. Howard Schultz is right.

      C) Warren didn’t mention Trudeau’s speech at Poundmaker. Anyone else wonder about why? Yes, it’s silly to apologize about something 133 years ago but it’s also cathartic for Treaty 6 people (probably) although I didn’t take a poll and I’m speaking for others which is what polls do…And then get wrong because of point 1) the difference between SAY and DO.

      D) I’ll make a PowerPoint to explain…never.

  2. Derek Pearce says:

    I think getting booed TWICE now at different public events shows there is something to these polls.

  3. As it was pointed out at the time, thier election narrative was totally unrealistic. People are less likely to fall for the defacit boogeyman as they where in the Chretien era.

  4. Jack B says:

    Ontario is lost. Might as well close it up and turn off the lights. Highest sovereign debt per capita in the world and people don’t want to make any cuts and now look up to the leader who would be Wynn on steroids. Just don’t bring down the rest of Canada when you default because the cushy pmts from Alberta are about to end.

  5. A. Voter says:

    Mike Harris was unpopular due to cuts in his first mandate, and was re-elected. The federal Liberals will likely benefit from the current Ontario mood in the October federal election.

  6. Gord says:

    I find it very interesting that twenty-five years ago, people flocked to support leaders running on a message of restraint (Jean Chretien, Mike Harris, Ralph Klein). Even left-leaning politicians like Roy Romanow, Bob Rae and traditionally left-leaning parties like the PQ recognized that the 60s were over and public spending couldn’t continue to spiral ever upward. In short, governments in the 1990s couldn’t cut spending fast enough, and even those that made the most brutal cuts got re-elected.

    I’m not sure what’s changed. Historically low interest rates have made deficit financing cheaper, to be sure, but at least in the 80s and early 1990s governments had the excuse of two deep recessions and sluggish economic performance to justify running deficits. What’s the excuse when the economy is (supposedly) doing well? I just don’t understand why voters who were once anxious to have balanced budgets (even in a down economy) now apparently could care less.

    My best guess is that in the 80s and 90s the Boomers were calling the shots politically and they were mainly interested in lower taxes. Now that the Boomers are entering retirement and thus more dependent on government (pensions, health care, housing, etc), their priorities have shifted. Add to that the fact that the other large voting bloc, Millennials, wants relief from skyrocketing costs of living and massive student debt and I see any form of real restraint being politically unpalatable for the foreseeable future.

    • The terrible things they said would happen if the the deficit wasn’t cut never happened even to those that didn’t cut. Then right wing parties increased the deficit by cutting taxes without consequences. Left wing parties learned about Modern Monetary Theory which embraces deficits.

  7. When your boss was doing the cutting — along with Martin — people liked both of them and readily bought into the narrative and its cogent arguments.

    People increasingly don’t like Ford. So why would they bother to give him the benefit of the doubt, no matter what narrative he eventually comes up with?

    • Miles Lunn says:

      Exactly. Ipsos poll out today which is not quite as bad but still negative shows Ford only has a 30% approval rating,but 52% support spending cuts so if Elliott or Mulroney were leader they would be making cuts too but unlikely have rock bottom approval ratings. Probably best course of action is go full throttle and balance the budget a year ahead of schedule then resign and let someone who is more likeable take over as leader.

  8. Shane says:

    To Mr. Kinsella:

    I find the first part of your post about Mainstream’s boss trolling you both interesting and highly concerning. Aren’t polling firms supposed to maintain impartiality, and simply present data? To what extent do you think that polling firms have ‘their fingers on the scales’ so to speak in both the US and Canada in an effort to influence voter opinion? Case in point Clinton/Trump. Do you think Canadian polling companies currently have a Liberal bias that may be currently overstating Liberal popularity in a effort to prevent more Liberal voters from switching to the NDP or Greens? How far can we trust polls?

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