COMPAS Poll/Survey
August 14, 2006

Explaining the Globe’s misleading anti-Harper poll

  A Report Poll by COMPAS Inc
Policy and Opinion
Consumer and Lifestyle
Business and Finance
Background and Summary

Stephen Harper’s Conservative party won Canada’s federal election on January 23, 2006. Just six months later, the Globe and Mail declared that Canadians were in uproar over the new federal government’s perceived pro-Israel, anti-Hizbollah stance. That’s what its polling showed, insisted the paper (2006-08-01).

The Calgary-based Western Standard magazine wondered how this could possibly be. So it contracted with COMPAS for a second professional opinion, and our research firm promptly went into the field.

The COMPAS poll reveals an entirely different portrait of where Canadians stand, and we show why. The two polls ask similar questions. But the COMPAS/Western Standard poll allows respondents more response options and asks more questions.

If Toronto’s Globe and Mail had permitted respondents the same wide range of options, the Globe’s reporting would have had to be radically different. The headlines would have changed from

“Only 32% Back PM on Mideast” to “Average 64% Backs PM on Mideast”

“Survey good news for Bloc and Liberals” to “Some good news for Bloc but possible bad news for Liberals outside Quebec”

“Harper’s stand on the Middle East leaves majority of Quebecers cold” to “Harper’s stand on the Middle East leaves majority of Quebecers luke-warm”.

The Globe reportage carried so much bad news for the Prime Minister and Israel and so much good news for Hizbollah that a foreign reader of the paper might be excused for concluding that Canadians have somehow come to embrace Hizbollah.

To find out how Canadians truly feel about Hisbollah, the COMPAS/Western Standard poll asked respondents if they favoured or opposed treating the organization as terrorist under Canadian law. Canadians favour treating Hizbollah as terrorist by a factor of 5:1 (2:1 in Quebec).

The 69% who favour continued treatment of Hizbollah as a terrorist organization were asked if they favour making it illegal to support the organization in Canada. Seventy-two percent said yes. Thus, about half of Canadians (0.69 X 0.72 = 0.5) favour making illegal mere support for Hizbollah (see tables at the bottom of the list of tables, below).

Asking people what they think of Hizbollah in Canada sheds light on how Canadians truly feel about the Harper government’s Mid-East stance. Half of Canadians would criminalize simple support for Hizbollah. This fact adds to the implausibility of the Globe’s portrait of a Canadian public hostile to Harper because of his verbal preference for Israel over Hizbollah.

The errors in the Globe poll are not limited to reporting how people feel about the government’s opposition to Hizbollah. In our view, the newspaper was also wrong in concluding that the public wants to send in Canadian peace-keepers. Respondents in the COMPAS poll were again offered a wider range of response options than in the Globe poll. A strong majority in the COMPAS poll oppose sending peace-keepers, at least until Hizbollah is disarmed.

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