Conservatives gathered in Ottawa for the annual Manning Networking Conference heard grim news today from pollster André Turcotte, who told them more Canadians are identifying with the Liberals—and that attacking Justin Trudeau over his support for legalizing marijuana isn’t the way to stop his party’s rise.
Turcotte, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa with a long association with the right side of the political spectrum, said 31 per cent of Canadians he surveyed late last year generally identify with the Liberal party, 26 per cent with the Conservative party and 18 per cent with the NDP. When he asked the same question about which party Canadians most closely identified a year earlier, 26 per cent said Liberal, 25 per cent Conservative and 17 per cent NDP.
He urged Conservatives at the Manning conference to focus on issues that might help them regain momentum after a tough year, such as the challenges of an aging population. But on the energy Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s strategists have been expending attacking what they seem to see as one of Trudeau’s main vulnerabilities—the Liberal leader’s preference for decriminalizing marijuana–Turcotte warned that they are on the wrong track. Here he explains to reporters why no politician really wins by focusing on a file most voters regard as unimportant: