Evaluating the Federal Government's Performance

As members of parliament return to Ottawa this week, a new national survey by Ottawa-based Abacus Data finds that a majority of Canadians believe that the country is headed on the right track and the federal government’s performance has been mixed.

Although the Conservative government did not receive outstandingly high marks on any one policy area, Canadians rated the federal government’s performance highest in its ability to reduce crime, manage the economy, create jobs, and keep taxes low.

For example, three in ten respondents said the federal government is doing a job at managing the economy, while only 25% said it was doing a poor job at reducing crime.

“Competence on the economy, reducing crime, and keeping taxes low are the pillars of Conservative government’s policy agenda,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.  “They are also the areas where the federal government gets its highest ratings from Canadians.”

The Conservative government was rated lowest on its record of making Canadians’ lives a bit easier, protecting the environment, and working with the opposition to build consensus.

“Considering the top priorities of Canadians right now are health care and the economy these results show progress in the government’s issue positioning,” said Coletto.  “Prime Minister Harper and his team have effectively sold its message – jobs, the economy, and crime – to a large number of Canadians.”

The survey also tested two key messages about the Conservative Party’s five year anniversary in power.  Respondents were asked whether they agreed with a line from a recent Conservative Party television advertisement and a line from a recent speech given by Michael Ignatieff.

Three in ten Canadians (32%) agreed that “Canada is stronger, prouder, and walking tall in the world.  We are in safe hands with Stephen Harper.  With so much at stake, why would we risk changing course” while more than 60% of Canadians agreed that “for five years, Stephen Harper hasn’t listened to Canadians.  His priorities of $21-billion stealth fighters, super prisons, and tax breaks for big corporations are out of touch with the real needs of Canadian families: family care, pensions, learning and jobs”

Read the full detailed report here.

Between January 21 and 24, 2011, Abacus Data Inc. conducted an online survey among 1,105  randomly selected Canadian adults from an online panel of over 100,000 Canadians. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is comparable to +/- 3.0%, 19 times out of 20.

Results of the survey were statistically weighted by gender, age, region, and language using census data from Statistics Canada and by past vote using Elections Canada results from the 2008 General Election. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.