Could positive poll numbers for the Harper Conservatives mean an early election?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics
Could positive poll numbers for the Harper Conservatives mean an early election?

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the possibility of the Harper Conservatives calling an early election.

A  new survey will no doubt help buoy that theory.

The Nanos Research analysis, released on Wednesday, claims that, for the first time in months, Stephen Harper has numerically surpassed Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in the ‘preferred prime minister’ category. 

"In the latest weekly tracking 32 per cent of Canadians say Harper is their preferred choice for PM followed by Trudeau at 30 per cent, Mulcair at 20 per cent and May at four percent," Nanos CEO Nic Nanos wrote to his email subscribers. 

Things are still looking good for the Liberals overall  the Nanos survey suggests that 52 per cent of Canadians “would consider voting Liberal” while only 41 per cent would consider voting Tory or NDP.  

But, after a year of the Liberals dominating in the opinion polls, the recent flurry of surveys  including the Nanos one  suggest that the Conservatives are gaining steam.

The Tory boost can be attributed, in part, to their recent ‘good news’ economic announcements. Ahead of a surplus budget, in 2015, they’ve announced cuts to EI premiums for small businesses, a boost to the child fitness tax credit and a suite of tax measures that will benefit every single family with children under the age of 18. 

On Wednesday, Finance Minister continued the positive messaging during his annual fiscal update in Toronto.

In what sounded more like a campaign speech than a financial statement, Oliver touted new jobs since the 2008 recession, a relatively low unemployment rate and tax cuts saying that “Canada is on the rise.” 

[ Related: Harper’s new family tax measures leaves little room for tax cuts or new spending, PBO warns ]

Political consultant Gerry Nicholls adds that the prime minister’s performance on the foreign affairs also plays a role in the positive poll numbers. 

"If Harper is trending upward, it’s likely because Canadians, thanks to the terrorist attack in Ottawa, the emergence of ISIS, Putin’s aggressiveness, are seeing the world as a more dangerous place," he told Yahoo Canada News

"Rightly or wrongly, they view Conservatives as more competent when it comes to security and defence issues." 

[ Related: Don’t like the Harper’s tax cuts? Donate your savings to the government ]

There is some risk to calling an early election. 

There’s a wide held belief that it would hurt the PM’s credibility if he deviated from his own fixed election date legislation which would have Canadians go to the polls on October 19, 2015. 

But, there’s also a point of view that, for political reasons, he’ll force an election as early as next Spring. 

Earlier this week in the Toronto Star, former Ontario deputy minister and Canada Post CEO Michael Warren offered four reasons why Harper will go that route. 

He cited the upcoming Sen. Mike Duffy trial scheduled to being in April, the Harper government’s financial ‘successes’, and the Tory war chest  which dwarfs the other parties  as good reasons for Harper to pull the plug in the first half of 2015. 

He, like Nicholls, also claims that the international strife will benefit the government. 

"The premeditated murder of two soldiers will serve to further buttress support for the war. It could also help Harper if he strikes a careful balance between security and freedom in his approach to tougher anti-terrorism laws,” he wrote.

"Harper now has a plausible pretext for an early election — to seek a clear mandate for the Islamic State war and for his response to domestic terrorism."

As for Nicholls, however, he isn’t convinced of an early election call. 

"It doesn’t mean we will have an early election, but it does mean predictions of Harper’s political demise are premature." 

Are you a politics junkie?
Follow @PoliticalPoints on Twitter!