Thursday, September 09, 2004

Ontarians Sour on McGuinty Liberals

Ontarians turn sour on McGuinty Liberals
Accusations of promise-breaking take toll
By RICHARD MACKIE
Thursday, September 9, 2004 - Page A16
The Globe and Mail

Ontario voters have turned thumbs down on Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals, giving them failing marks on their problem-plagued performance over 10½ months in office, according to the latest poll by Ipsos-Reid.
The poll shows that the government has been damaged by accusations of breaking its promises, especially for raising taxes to pay for health care after pledging during last year's election campaign to hold the line on tax bills.
According to the poll conducted for The Globe and Mail, radio station CFRB and CFTO television, voters would opt for the Progressive Conservatives to form the government if an election were held now, even though the party has not yet chosen a new leader.
In the so-called "horse-race" question about which party would win an election if one were called now, 35 per cent said they would vote for the Conservatives, down from 39 per cent who picked that party in early June. The Liberals would be supported by 32 per cent, unchanged from the June results.
Twenty-four per cent would back the New Democratic Party, led by Howard Hampton, up one percentage point since June. And 8 per cent would prefer the Green Party and its leader, Frank de Jong, up three percentage points.
Over all, 6 per cent said they were undecided and 1 per cent would pick another party.
John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos-Reid, said results show that voters are unhappy with Mr. McGuinty's government. "The man is wearing it. The Premier himself has had a rough time."
Alleviating the political gloom for the Liberals, he said: "They are not being trounced by another party. Instead, the parties are pretty evenly bunched."
More damaging for the Liberals are the dismal approval numbers given to Mr. McGuinty and the majority belief that his government is taking the province in the wrong direction. Sixty-one per cent of those polled said that they disapprove of Mr. McGuinty's performance, while only 29 per cent said they approved. The others did not respond.
This represents an increase of 15 percentage points in the number of voters who are unhappy with Mr. McGuinty since the question last was asked in April. Reinforcing this number is the finding that 52 per cent of those polled say the province is on "the wrong track." Only 42 per cent say it is on "the right track." The rest did not respond. The poll, conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.