Government poll suggests widespread distrust of politicians

The Senate expenses scandal could be the tip of the iceberg


OTTAWA – Public-opinion polling ordered by the Harper government suggests the Senate expense scandal has tarred all politicians with the same brush.

A newly released report finds Canadians fed up with “rich politicians” and their “lush lifestyles,” and wondering how deep the flagrant spending abuse runs.

Those views dominate the polling and survey groups conducted by private pollster Leger last August for the Privy Council Office, the prime minister’s own department.

The survey specifically asked about the economy, pipelines and telecom regulation — but it was the Senate scandal that seemed to get people’s blood boiling.

The $112,000 report included a telephone survey of 3,000 Canadians, and 12 focus groups in six cities, including a French-language group in Quebec City.

Leger was hired to ask Canadians specifically about the Senate scandal, which then involved allegations of spending abuse by Conservative senators Mike Duffy, Pam Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, all of whom were subsequently voted out of the current Senate session, losing their paycheques.

“Recent allegations regarding misspending were perceived as a sign that more accountability was needed for all use of public money,” says the newly released report.

“The events of the past few months created a sense among participants that overspending or using public money for personal benefits may be widespread.”

The report cites Canadians’ personal economic difficulties as exacerbating their frustration with the misuse of public funds in the upper house.

“Many participants spontaneously contrasted what they viewed as a waste of tax dollars by rich politicians to their more difficult personal situation,” says the document, dated Oct. 30.

“They were frustrated to think that public servants used Canadians’ hard-earned tax dollars to live lush lifestyles while taxpayers personally struggled to make a decent living. For that reason, few believed that the status quo was acceptable.”

The striking findings may help explain the Harper government’s tough line on the Senate scandal in the fall session of Parliament, as senators were pressured to suspend Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau from their posts, despite concerns about due process.

The Harper government kept up the heat in this week’s budget, which promised legislation that would ensure senators do not accrue pension benefits while suspended. The new law is not expected to apply retroactively.

Shortly after Tuesday’s budget was released, CBC reported further dubious travel expenses by Conservative senators, including questionable use of business class in short-haul flights and taxpayer-funded flights by spouses — much of it coming at the height of the spending controversy.

The Leger polling found Canadians especially frustrated by alleged Senate abuse of public funds because “very few among them could explain what senators did on a daily basis, nor what the Senate’s role is within the Canadian parliamentary system.”

Participants said the overspending issue appeared to be a problem “that may be uncovered elsewhere” in government.

Leger was also specifically asked to question Canadians on telecom deregulation, including reaction to a series of ads from big industry players that pressed the government to bar foreign players from the Canada’s market.

“Most reacted to the telecom advertising campaign with cynicism, stating that certain companies were simply trying to protect themselves so they did not have to lower their prices.”

On the economy, most of those surveyed indicated job creation was a priority.

Especially in Ontario, participants “pointed to the lack of good jobs that created a downward spiral of low wages, low tax revenues, low consumption, etc.”

Those surveyed indicated the government of Canada should take “more visible action,” Leger found.

“They felt that the actions taken by the Canadian government to improve the economic situation had not been visible enough. Most recalled advertisements on Canada’s Economic Action Plan, but they felt they knew very little about specific actions taken.”

A key criticism of the federal and provincial governments was that they “were not proactively trying to stay ahead of the curve, but were rather relying on a strong banking sector and natural resources to weather the storm.”

The report also said respondents felt pipelines were safer than rail transport of oil, and they especially favoured west-to-east transport of oil by pipeline across Canada.


Government poll suggests widespread distrust of politicians

  1. It’s always easy to get Canadians wound up about trivia. There was more uproar about Bev Oda’s OJ, than there was about the F-35s.

    • F-35’s aren’t for sale in the grocery store?

      • Noop…..not on the rack, or a shelf or in a showroom either. LOL

      • Model companies sell them for under $100

    • But I am sure Bev Oda and the senators support the F35s for political and monetary favors. These are the cheaters getting us inflated contracts of mostly waste and excess, then taxing us for this and more like buddy and union bailouts.

  2. Maybe they should audit the MP’s, senior staffers and the Mandarins as well.

    • Not only audit them but actually charge them for a change.

      • Canada doesn’t jail crooked politicians, CEOs and top level civil servants as they know too much and too many others doing the same thing. Canda doesn’t prosecute powerful people like China does, its all for show.

        Any Quebec crooked mayors in jail tonight? Any SNC? And CRA?

    • Politics for some = Entitlement

      Junior Trudeau DOUBLED his speaking fees after he threw his hat in the political ring.
      Was he SELLING ACCESS to the political power he hoped to have?
      Was he acting as a NON REGISTERED LOBBYIST?
      Or was he simply a greedy opportunist?

      Did he tell the ethics minister he was DOUBLING HIS FEES?

      Collect full time pay from the taxpayer then DOUBLE your fees as you moonlight in your private business dealing with charities and other government funded groups. Junior Trudeau grew up with entitlement and his personal greed should embarrass honest Liberals if there are any.

      Check the public record below and see what his average speaking fees were prior to throwing his hat in the political ring February 16, 2007 as compared to the average fee afterward.


      • On the other hand no one would pay to hear Harper speak

      • Unfortunately if we depended on CRAP to come clean, there would be no public record.

      • So you’re saying that as he became busier and his time became more valuable to him for other things, he started charging more to those who would have him use his time to speak to them?

        Wow.. that’s uh.. shocking? No.. no.. what’s the opposite of that?

        • thwim – You think the Senate cheaters are just entrepreneurs?

          Everyone is upset with the senate because SENATORS took PERSONAL FINANCIAL ADVANTAGE of what their political position offered. EXACTLY WHAT JUNIOR TRUDEAU DID.
          This is why Junior Trudeau has no moral authority.
          He took personal gain on his political position and DOUBLED his fees once he entered the political ring.
          Just like the Senate that he criticized except for one thing.

          • There’s a difference between taking money you’re not entitled to from the tax-payer, and taking money someone is legitimately willing to pay you.

            Anybody with intelligence beyond that of a moron understands this.

          • I understand when people reply with name calling their argument is intellectually void.

          • It seems you don’t, actually. The Ad Hominem fallacy occurs when the name calling is in place of the argument.

            In this case, I presented my argument (There is a difference between…), and then suggested that if you did not understand this rudimentary argument, you are a moron.

            Obviously I was mistaken in including the qualifier.

  3. It is really hard for Canadians to know the truth about the Senate scandals what with all the cover-ups by the government and the incompetent RCMP “investigations.” The RCMP could have charged Duffy long ago but refuse to use the laws right in front of their noses. If only there was a group in Canada who could investigate such crimes honourably and competently but there isn’t. There’s only the RCMP and they’re always in somebody’s pocket.

    • Its why the police in China do NOT answer to the leader, they answer to an independently elected committee. And they are free and often encouraged to investigate anything suspicious in government.

      But Ottawa is about deception and lies. Most charges if made are dropped or the fines so trivial….its meaningless.

  4. The only way to fix the senate is to abolish it. Yep, eliminate the waste as the senate doesn’t do anything for Canadians at large anyways except cost us money in taxes hidden and realized taxes.

    Eliminating the senate is so simple, even Ottawa might get it right. We just need to get an ethical leader to push it.

    As for the tip of the iceberg, yep. If the embezzle, cheat on expenses, tax evade or whatever, that is the tip of the iceberg as these people consume lots of our money and influence a lot of lobby money back room deals. Anonymous credit cards, stock tips and cash accepted.

    • I just don’t trust governments enough to do that yet Dave. They’ve got the promising part down pat. It’s the keeping of promises that needs a lot of work.

    • Eliminating the senate is so simple

      Please explain. Because most experts say it would require unanimous consent to get the constitutional changes necessary. How do you see that as something easy to accomplish?

  5. Canadians are right, just not about the right thing. The Senate expense scandal is definitely the tip of the iceberg with regard to PMO’s attempt to take over our democracy. The fraud, which is very small-scale, is not the important issue.

  6. This must come from the overhaul impression of Canadians of Harper and his party starting at their “ridiculing” of their opposition critics which we see openly in the media. Comparison is the British and French debates.

  7. Privy Council ordered this poll, not the PMO, typical OPG;

    PCO ensures that Canada and
    Canadians are served by a quality public service – that delivers advice
    and services in a professional manner, and strives to meet the highest
    standards of accountability, transparency and efficiency. This includes:

    Management of the appointments process for senior positions in federal departments, Crown corporations and agencies

    Setting policy on human resources issues and public service renewal

    Ensuring the Public Service has the capacity to meet emerging challenges and the changing responsibilities of government

    Drafting and submitting an annual report to the Prime Minister on the state of the Public Service

    PCO is staffed by career public servants and its activities are guided by our mission and values.

  8. Senate scandal: Ever wonder why two of them are former journalists, who he appointed and then humiliated? Harper hates journalists because they keep exposing his misdeeds.

  9. Pingback: Gnowit Does Government Relations Need a PR Makeover? | Gnowit

  10. Pingback: Gnowit 3 Insights: The Senate, the Media, and the Court of Public Opinion - Gnowit