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RSR Survey - 1. Canadian leaders and party support; 2. PMO and Chief Justice Supreme Court of Canada
  May 16, 2014

Question #1
Which leader snd political party in Canada do you currently support?
Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party of Canada    35 %
Stephen Harper and Conservative Party of Canada    30 %
Thomas Mulcair and New Democratic Party of Canada    27 %
Elizabeth May and Green Party of Canada    4 %
Bloc Quebecois/Independent/Other    4 %
Undecided    8 %
Question #2
Recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper criticized Supreme Court of Canada Justice Beverly McLachlin saying that the chief justice acted improperly a year ago, when she advised his office that a Federal Court judge from Quebec might not fit the legal criteria for appointment set for Quebec appointees to the Supreme Court of Canada. Which of the following response choices best depicts your impression of this disagreement?
The Prime Minister should never criticize the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada    45 %
The Prime Minister should criticize the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada if the situation warrants criticism    22 %
Indifferent/take no position/have no opinion/undecided    33 %
Commentary
Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party of Canada continues to lead Stephen Harper's Conservative government with support among Canadians nationally.
The difference between the two parties nationally can be explained in the Province of Ontario where the federal Liberals lead Stephen Harper's Conservatives by (11%), in Quebec where that lead is (9%), and in the Atlantic Provinces where the lead is (5%). These leads in Ontario and eastward for the Liberals which represent (6%) nationally are reduced somewhat by Conservative leads in western Canada averaging (12%) there but only (3%) on a national basis.
Thomas Mulcair's New Democrats are just behind the Conservatives (30%-27%) including the Province of Ontario (2%), but are more than (20%) ahead in Quebec. Conservatives are slightly more popular among Canadians than the New Democrats in the Atlantic Provinces and are also ahead of the New Democrats in western Canada by (16%).
In question #2 the response choice - "The Prime Minister should never criticize the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada", (45%) of Canadian respondents agree with this position. The second response choice "The Prime Minister should criticize the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada if the situation warrants criticism" attracts (22%) support. The third response choice - Indifferent, no position, undecided etc. represents one third of respondent choice.
By province the support for never criticizing the chief justice is as follows (west to east): British Columbia (46%), Alberta (42%), Saskatchewan (41%), Manitoba (45%), Ontario (52%), Quebec (36%), New Brunswick (44%), Nova Scotia (48%), Newfoundland and Labrador (45%).
Support for the Prime Minister's position of criticizing if the situation warrants it: British Columbia (23%), Alberta (31%), Saskatchewan (34%), Manitoba (27%), Ontario (14%), Quebec (25%), New Brunswick (30%), Nova Scotia (22%), Newfoundland and Labrador (24%).
The Province of Ontario represents the largest difference between response choice 1 (the chief justice) and response choice 2 (the prime minister) at (52%-14%). Quebec reflects the lowest support for response choice 1 (36%)
The Supreme Court of Canada and the Canadian Parliament are both located in Ottawa. The deference to the courts and the chief justice is conspicuous by respondent outcome and anecdote. Support for response choice 2 (the prime minister) is slightly higher than national average in the Prairie Provinces and close to national average in the Atlantic Provinces.
Generally, Canadians expect better accountability from elected officials and government as a whole.
The outcomes of this survey question and most specifically question number 2 suggests that Canadians perceive the Supreme Court of Canada to be sufficiently accountable. Canadians expect the Supreme Court of Canada to make good legal decisions on behalf of the country. The highest court is generally respected, and many respondents are troubled when a disagreement comes between the top elected official and the chief justice. This is not an argument that they want to hear.
The Supreme Court of Canada has made decisions on many controversial issues but there is no substantial history of discontent among Canadians about any of these decisions.
Historically, Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and decisions flowing from the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to the charter have been more primarily focused on criminal matters.
A history of decisions pertaining to civil and commercial matters has yet to be well established, and remains a work in progress. As time goes by the court may be called upon to deal with more issues relating to civil and commercial matters in the public interest of Canadians.
This is an RSR Survey of 1,080 Canadian voters from the May 2011 federal general election, conducted between May 8-14, 2014. It features a margin of error of 2.98%, 19/20 @ 95% confidence.
Best efforts were undertaken to ensure fair and proper outcomes from this poll reflected population and composition, particularly as this relates to gender from each Canadian province.

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