Would You Buy a Used Car From This Man?

Yes, some of the better blogs out there - Andrew Coyne's, for instance - picked up on this already, but it really knocks my socks off.

The fact that the CPC has pulled ahead of the Libs in the recent CTV/G&M poll is just fine as far as I'm concerned, but I'm not exactly opening up the champagne. It's a long way to go till we vote, the contenders are still within the margin of error, the only poll that counts is election day, & c.

But I am, to use a technical term, somewhat gob-smacked a bit by this (and it takes a a lot for me to be full-on gobsmacked, let me tell you). From the CTV on-line story:

When asked to name which of the leaders is the most dishonest:

  • 63 per cent of Canadians picked Martin;
  • 20 per cent chose Harper;
  • 5 per cent of respondents said NDP Leader Jack Layton; and
  • 3 per cent named Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.

The picture becomes even bleaker for Martin. A stunning 61 per cent of Canadians say they believe he would lie if it would help him politically; 54 per cent call him hypocritical; while 47 percent say he's indecisive.

Good grief. As AC pointed out (yeah, I tend to borrow/plagiarise more when I'm behind in my real-life work, can't you tell?), these numbers are well outside the margin of error. If anyone would have predicted these sorts of numbers vis a vis Martin before this poll came out, please let me know when you're next going to the track, because I want you to pick my horses.

Now, it is entirely possible that this is one of those rogue polls you hear the kids talking about in school these days - there is, after all, a reason why the good polling companies say something like "The margin of error is X%, 19 times out of 20".

Maybe this is the "20th" poll. But I don't think so. I think people are coming to the conclusion that Paul Martin will do anything, say anything and pay anything to hold onto his job. I think people are also concluding that it's silly for someone who had the Liberal Party in the palm of his hand for years, even before he pushed Jean Chretien out the door, to say that he knew nothing about what was going on.

And here is another problem for Team Martin: Once the media, and/or the public at large, come to a conclusion that you have a major character flaw (or flaws), it is very hard to persuade them to change their minds. Just ask Stockwell Day, or Joe Clark, or John Turner, or Brian Mulroney, or .... well, you get the idea.

Stephen Harper has to deal with this public image problem as well, but this is a case where his aloof attitude can work in his favour. It seems that most Canadians still don't quite have a "read" on Harper yet. This means that he can still define himself, rather than be defined by others. I don't know about you, but I would rather be seen as cold and remote, than be held in contempt or thought of as a crook.

More later.


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