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Turnout, strategic voting likely to decide election as Grits, Tories tied: pollster


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OTTAWA — The 2021 federal election is likely going to be decided by turnout and strategic voting, Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says as his firm’s latest poll results show the leading two parties in a dead heat.

The poll suggests the Liberals and Conservatives both have the support of 32 per cent of decided voters. The NDP are in third with 20 per cent.

But about one-fifth of those surveyed in the online poll conducted in collaboration with The Canadian Press said if the race was tight between the two front-runners, it could likely convince them to switch their vote to the Liberals. About one in 10 said they might switch to the Conservatives.

Almost one in three voters who said they plan to vote NDP also said a close race could convince them to vote Liberal instead, and a similar number of people who plan to vote for the People’s Party of Canada said they might switch to the Conservatives.

Bourque said the race is so tight in part because no one party or leader is generating energy or excitement.

“There is a little bit of a blah feeling, a little bit, right now,” he said.

The Conservatives had some momentum in the middle of the campaign, and a similar poll taken two weeks ago showed them with 34 per cent, the Liberals at 30 per cent and the NDP at 24 per cent.

The polls cannot be given a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

The latest poll was taken between Sept. 10 and Sept. 13, the four days following the two nationally televised leaders’ debates, where the biggest punch came not from any of the leaders but from a moderator’s question about what she called Quebec’s “discriminatory” secularism law.

In Quebec, the Liberals are holding steady with support of 34 per cent of decided voters polled by Leger, compared with 30 per cent for the Bloc Québécois, 19 per cent for the Conservatives and 10 per cent for the NDP.

Bourque said following the debates, the Bloc Québécois regained some traction but the Conservatives, who won 10 seats in Quebec two years ago, are falling below where they want to be to increase their seat count there.

“If the Tories are below 20 per cent in Quebec, they cannot mathematically gain new seats,” said Bourque.

In Ontario, where the critical “905” region that includes Toronto’s populous suburbs will help determine the final outcome, the Liberals hold a very slight lead over the Conservatives, at 36 and 34 per cent respectively. In British Columbia, the Conservatives enjoy a slight lead over the Liberals, with the NDP only a few points back.

Bourque said the poll numbers for the NDP in B.C. would likely allow them to hold their seats there but in Ontario, where they’re at 22 per cent in the Leger poll, things could start to get dicey.

“At 22, the potential for not making gains in Ontario and maybe losing some is very close,” said Bourque. “So I think that’s the one they need to watch right now.”

The poll suggests the momentum the Conservatives had in the early weeks of this campaign has sputtered, and the Liberals are starting to mount a slow comeback.

The biggest drag on the Liberals, according to Leger, is Justin Trudeau himself. One-third of those polled said his leadership was making them hesitant about voting Liberal, while a similar number said his ethics are giving them pause.

For Erin O’Toole, more than one in five voters polled cited social issues like abortion as the main reason they’re hesitant to vote Conservative, with almost as many also naming his policies on climate change and vaccines as a deciding factor.

Gun control was named by about one in six people as a reason they’re hesitant to vote Conservative, but in a world where strategic voting matters, O’Toole’s evolving position on gun control may make it harder to lure voters back from the People’s Party of Canada. More than half of decided PPC voters said gun control policy was making them hesitant about voting Conservative.

Bourque said in addition to strategic voting, turnout could be a factor. He said most often low turnout favours the incumbent, because when voters really want change, turnout tends to go up.

Two-thirds of voters either plan to or already have voted by mail or at an advanced poll.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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Mohawk Council of Kahnawake ‘repulsed’ by politicization of Habs’ land acknowledgment

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MONTREAL — The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is blasting the Quebec government for questioning a land acknowledgment by the Montreal Canadiens that refers to the unceded territory of the Mohawk Nation.

The statement, which has been read before the NHL team’s home games this season, acknowledges the hospitality of the Mohawk Nation “on this traditional and unceded territory where we are gathered today.”

Quebec Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière told reporters on Wednesday the acknowledgment may be an error.

In a statement Thursday, the elected council for the First Nations reserve across the river from Montreal commended the hockey club’s gesture as an example of true reconciliation and added it was “repulsed” by the province’s attempt to politicize the effort, which it said undermines the Mohawk presence in the Montreal region.

On Wednesday, Lafrenière told reporters that referring to a specific nation may be a mistake as historians differ on which nation was the first to live in Montreal, while adding it was important to recognize that First Nations were the first occupants.

Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer said in a statement that land is an essential part of Mohawk identity.

“It holds the knowledge of our ancestors, our history and our presence, now and for the future,” Sky-Deer said. “Opinionated commentary that challenge and discredit our presence are not only insulting, they are taken as displaced attacks on our existence.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Supreme Court of Canada sides with injured woman in snow-clearing squabble

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OTTAWA — A woman will get another chance to sue for damages over a leg injury she suffered while climbing through snow piled by a city’s plow, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

Taryn Joy Marchi alleged the City of Nelson, B.C., created a hazard when it cleared snow from downtown streets after a storm in early January 2015.

The removal effort left snow piles at the edge of the street along the sidewalk early in the morning of Jan. 5.

Late in the afternoon of Jan. 6, Marchi — then a 28-year-old nurse — parked in an angled spot on the street and, wearing running shoes with a good tread, tried to cross a snow pile to get on to the sidewalk.

Her right foot dropped through the snow and she fell forward, seriously injuring her leg.

Marchi contended the city should have left openings in the snowbank to allow safe passage to the sidewalk.

She pointed to the neighbouring municipalities of Castlegar, Rossland and Penticton in arguing there were preferable ways to clear the streets so as to ensure safe access for pedestrians.

However, the trial judge dismissed her case, saying the city was immune from liability because it made legitimate policy decisions about snow clearing based on the availability of personnel and resources.

In any event, the judge concluded, Marchi assumed the risk of crossing the snow pile and was “the author of her own misfortune.”

The B.C. Court of Appeal overturned the decision and ordered a new trial, saying the judge erred in addressing the city’s duty of care and the question of Marchi’s negligence.

The ruling prompted the City of Nelson to seek a hearing in the Supreme Court.

In a written submission to the high court, the city said its actions amount to “a clear example of a core policy decision” that should be immune from liability.

In her filing with the court, Marchi said city employees made a number of operational decisions that fell below the expected standard of care of a municipality — decisions not required by the written policy.

In its 7-0 ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court said a fresh trial should take place because the city has not proved that its decision on how to clear the snow was “a core policy decision” immune from liability.

While there is no suggestion the city made an irrational or “bad faith decision,” the city’s core policy defence fails and it owed Ms. Marchi a duty of care, justices Sheilah Martin and Andromache Karakatsanis wrote on behalf of the court.

“The regular principles of negligence law apply in determining whether the City breached the duty of care and, if so, whether it should be liable for Ms. Marchi’s damages.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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