Canadians Say Federal Government has a Responsibility to Support Economic Development: New Poll

September 30, 2008, 1:36 PM EST

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 A new poll by Nanos Research for the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Auto Workers union (CW) reveals that 85% of Canadians believe the government has a responsibility to put strategies in place for developing various sectors of the economy.

This endorsement of government involvement to support Canadian industries is in stark contrast to the Conservative Party's laissez faire approach to managing the economy. Just a few months ago, Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty rejected government intervention in the economy by calling public investments to support Canadian industries "band-Aids for individual companies".

"Canadians want their government to intervene in difficult economic times to protect workers and their families," said Ken Lewenza, CAW National President. "But given the Conservative government's track record of ignoring our ailing manufacturing sector, can we really trust Stephen Harper to support this and other vital sectors of the economy if re-elected?"

Support for the idea that governments have a role to play in the economy is strong across demographic, regional and party preference lines. That support is highest among males (86.6%), Canadians aged 18-29 and 40-49 (87.4% each) and Ontario (88.1%), the province hardest hit by Canada's manufacturing crisis. Interestingly, after Bloc Quebecois supporters, Canadians supporting the Conservative Party are most likely to approve of government intervention in the economy (90.2% and 88.6% respectively).

These poll results have important implications for all political parties, particularly as Canada's economy continues to struggle. More than 200,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since the Conservatives were elected in January 2006 and Canada's manufacturing trade deficit has more than tripled in just three years, from $16 billion in 2005 to over $50 billion this year. In addition, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development suggests in its most recent Economic Outlook that Canada is expected to have the second-worst economic growth of all the G7 economies this year with real GDP growing just 1.2 percent.

"The economy is hurting," said Lewenza, "we need our next government to have a plan to both protect and create Canadian jobs."

To arrange an interview or for further information please contact:

Angelo DiCaro, Canadian Auto Workers, t. 416 497-4110, c. 416 606-6311, e.

Steven Staples, Rideau Institute, t. 613 565-9449, c. 613 290-2695, e.

Nik Nanos, Nanos Research, t. 613 234-4666 ext. 237, c. 613 276-2731, e.

The poll results are based on a random telephone survey of 1,200 Canadians from September 20th to September 22nd, 2008. The margin of accuracy for a sample of 1,200 is ±2.8%, 19 times out of 20. For more details on the poll please see the attachment. For more information on polling technique please visit

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