Ontarians laud government for full day kindergarten, but four-in-five believe the HST was the wrong thing to do.
The opposition Progressive Conservative Party holds a double-digit lead over the incumbent Liberals, as Ontarians ponder their options in next year’s provincial election, a new Toronto Star / Angus Reid poll has found.
In the online survey of a representative provincial sample of 805 Ontario adults, 41 per cent say they will vote for the Progressive Conservatives if an election were held tomorrow.
The Liberals are second with 29 per cent, followed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) with 22 per cent, and the Green Party with eight per cent. One-in-four (26%) Ontarians are undecided at this time.
Overall, three-in-ten Ontarians (29%) think the Ontario government led by Dalton McGuinty is on the right track, while seven-in-ten (71%) believe it is on the wrong track.
Ontarians do not believe the incumbent administration is an effective economic manager. While 35 per cent of respondents feel that the government has done a good or very good job of managing the economy over the last six months, 65 per cent describe it as a poor or very poor job.
Respondents were asked their views on five recent policies that were implemented by the Ontario government. A majority of Ontarians think the move towards full day kindergarten (66%) and legalizing professional mixed martial arts fighting (52%) were the right thing to do, while at least seven-in-ten brand three policies as wrong: online gambling (71%), eco fees (73%) and the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) (81%).
Despite reservations expressed by Ontarians regarding many of these policies, a majority of decided Liberal voters remain on-side with many of the directions taken by the government, including the HST (53% state that it was the right thing to do).
More than half of Ontarians (56%) expect higher taxes in the event Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party are elected to government in the next provincial election. Three-in-four respondents (75%) also expect Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives to cut provincial public services.
By comparison, two thirds of Ontarians expect higher taxes from an NDP government, led by Andrea Horwath (66%), with a similar proportion expecting and enhancement of provincial public services (66%).
With one year to go before the next provincial election in October 2011, Ontario voters are sending warning signals to the incumbent government. With an appetite for change, and a belief that things are on the wrong track, a plurality of decided voters are flirting with the option of a hand-over of power to the Ontario PCs.
While the support landscape appears sobering for the incumbent Liberals, they can take comfort in the evidence that committed Liberal voters see the logic of many recent policy decisions—even the unpopular ones. Also reassuring for the current government is the fact that many Ontarians believe the worst about a potential PC government: that it would raise taxes and cut services.
This data suggests that Ontarians have a lot of thinking to do over the next year. They will likely require evidence of a commitment to easing the financial burden on taxpayers. Which party can provide this reassurance remains to be seen.
Jodi Shanoff, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
+416 712 5498
Methodology: From September 21 to September 22, 2009, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 805 randomly selected Ontarian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of Ontario. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.