Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On value judgments

One last note from yesterday's Angus Reid post-election polling, as an election which changed so much in terms of Canada's party standings doesn't seem to have done anything to diminish the gap between Canadians and their governing party:
The polling company's survey also revealed that Canadians generally hold liberal values, except when it comes to serious crime.

Almost four out of five Canadians, but slightly fewer British Columbians, say the courts "need to give much tougher sentences to all those convicted of criminal acts."

However, most Canadians balked at jailing people for minor offences such as breaking and entering, saying: "It does more harm than good."

The live-and-let-live views of Canadians came out strongly on sexual morality, with 83 per cent of Canadians agreeing "the lifestyles of gay and lesbian people are just as valid as those of heterosexual people."

However, Canadians aren't opposed to government intervention on non-bedroomrelated (sic) issues. Three-quarters of Canadians want stricter environmental regulations, saying they're "worth the cost."

Another 68 per cent of Canadians believe governments need to provide more financial aid to the poor, suggesting most Canadians don't oppose political action for the common good.

Finally, even though a majority of Canadians supported various tax cuts, only one out of five agreed that "government debt should be reduced, even if it means cuts in health care."
Of course, the latter three points all reflect areas where the Cons tried to at least feign interest during the course of the election campaign, so they may not serve as evidence of future party preferences. But they surely figure to limit how far even a majority government can go in then opposite direction.

Meanwhile, the one issue where public opinion seems to clash meaningfully with that of our political class is that of criminal sentencing - where even with little partisan pushback against five years of Con posturing, a majority of Canadians don't buy the claim that the proper response to any criminal offence is to lock up the offender and throw away the key. And with that many respondents recognizing the problems with mandatory minimums on their own, there would seem to be ample room for the NDP to give a stronger political voice to that position.

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