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Friday, September 02, 2005

How Comfortable are NLers With Their Place in Canada?

How comfortable are Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans with their place in the Dominion of Canada?

Does anyone really know?

A few years back a Royal Commission survey concluded that 12% of people in the province would opt for separation from Canada. How accurate was that number at the time. Since the report was issued, many things have changed in the Province and in the Country in general. How accurate is this number now?

If the recent growth of parties like NLFirst, the increase in blogs like this one and the fact that so many Pink, White and Green flags are flying from roof tops is any indication, I doubt the number is very accurate at all.

I believe it’s time for a new and unbiased poll to be conducted across the province that will let the public know exactly what the prevailing sentiment is on the subject. The poll does not need to be overly complex and could consist of a couple of simple questions like:

If a referendum were held tomorrow, would you vote to remain in Canada or to become an independent nation?

Do you believe Newfoundland and Labrador has the financial ability to succeed independently from Canada?

A poll of this type would finally deliver a clear message to Ottawa and to our provincial leaders that:

A) We like being a part of the Country of Canada and wish to stay;
B) We don’t like being a part of Canada and want to leave; or
C) Sentiment is growing or lessening with regard to separation

I think it’s time this was done and the results made public.

Of course it would be very important to learn from the poll exactly who is in the "Confederation" or "Non-Confederation" camp. This could be accomplished by sampling the public in 3 distinct geographical regions:

The Avalon Peninsula;
Rural Newfoundland; and
Labrador

The results of the referendum that brought us into Canada clearly identify the fact that sentiment in the Avalon area may not be the same as that in rural Newfoundland, and we all know that Labrador often has a different view of our political situation than the island does.

Another demographic of interest would be age groups. Perhaps the results could be broken out into:

18 – 39
40 – 54
55 +

This would provide a clear picture of how the various age groups feel on the subject, with the younger grouping being very critical as it would provide a clear picture of the direction our province is heading.

The commissioning of just such a poll might be an interesting topic for discussion at the upcoming conference on our place in Canada next week. (see previous article for details)

I wonder if someone with the financial resources to commission such a poll will step up and find those answers. Perhaps it might be a valid exercise for the NL First party. One would think a party that has stated time and again that separation should always remain on the table as an option, would or should commission such a poll to determine the level of support.

No matter who were to commission the poll, I'm sure the results would prove to be very interesting.

3 comments:

NL-ExPatriate said...

If all you are looking for is a feeler poll, while it won't be accurate or binding. There are lots of free poll sites that will host one, or you could just as easily add one to your site. I believe it is a simple program. Did one once long time ago.

Here is one from a quick google search.

http://www.pollhost.com/

Personally I think each and every question should be a stand alone question no if ands or buts, like the Atlantic accord schmozle.

Do you want to separate?

Do you want to join the EU?

Do you want to become your own country?

Do you want to continue to work within Canada towards a better NL and Canada?

Do you want to join the US?

Do you want to remain with a Canadian Economic Union?

Keep in mind these are raw questions and would and should have a bare minimun a proposed plan of expectations, pro's and cons.

Patriot said...

To Expatriat:

I can appreciate the idea of an online poll, but I suspect it wouls skew the results. You would tend to get more people who are interested in change visiting a site like this one.

If the poll was done by an official polling agency and done through random sampling it would be more accurate and hold more weight.

Gordon said...

Poll-based "surveys" are fun, but tell us little. Patriot is right to say that they should be done by proper polling agencies.

I do not know what a good poll would say, but (and I am saying this as a separatist), that it still might not be much higher that it was in 2003. There is a party called NLFirst, but as far as I know, it has yet to contest even a single byelection. Furthermore, they seem to suggest separation as a "last resort", which is what the old Peckford government used to say. The problem is that separatism has yet to find a vehicle to go forward, so it remains "out there" somewhere. Most people like to choose from a menu of parties.... and separatism is not on the menu yet. So, separatism remains a unarticulated vague idea, rather than a real choice. Even on a poll in which people are forced to use their imagination, "Separate from Canada" seems too esoteric. What would that mean? Would it mean losing pogey and Medicare? Then the answer will be NO. Would it mean better control of the fisheries? Then the answer would be YES. As it is now, people will (sensibly, I think) be cautious and worry about losing benefits they currently enjoy and simply say NO. Surely, the work must be ours to articulate the promise of a better future for the common folk out there. We have been sorely lacking in that department so far. What I am saying is that people are not saying NO to separatism, but that people are saying NO to unarticulated ideas that they cannot put a face to. I mean, imagine if the Liberals or PC's had an idea, even a very good idea, but no politicians to run in the seats. They would not do well in polls, would they?

So, we should concentrate on articulating this idea so that when they see it as a menu item it will look appetizing. As it stands, it has not been cooked as well as the other items, and nobody willingly chooses half-baked items. People will want to know if they will be able to get pogey or not. What about healthcare? The coast guard? Foreign affairs? Would we have our own currency? People will rightfully want to know the answers to these questions. When anti-separatists say we would not be able to do this or that, I call them on it, since many objections to separatism tend to stem from being unable to think outside the box. Nevertheless, it would be easier and better if there were a party that explicitly called for separatism as a MEANS of doing things properly.

Ultimately, what we need to do is show we are mature enough to finally go our own way. I believe we are getting there quickly, but we have to get organized.

By the way, EU membership is right out. You have to be European to join, and we're not European. Thank God! The last thing we need are even more Spanish fishing vessels!! Why would we want to be part of the EU anyway?