Stockwell Day's popularity in his home province of Alberta has plummeted, leaving him with a personal approval rating no higher than that of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and well below that of Tory Leader Joe Clark, a new Ipsos-Reid poll suggests.
In the poll of 750 Albertans, some 52 per cent said they disapproved of the way the Canadian Alliance Leader is performing as Opposition Leader, including 30% who "strongly disapproved."
In contrast, only 45% said they approved of Mr. Day's performance, down from the two-thirds approval rating he garnered in his home province last August shortly after taking over as Canadian Alliance Leader.
Mr. Day fared worse with women than men, and was less popular in Calgary and Edmonton than in rural Alberta.
The poll - conducted last weekend - is considered to be accurate within 3.6% points, 19 times out of 20.
At his current levels, Mr. Day ranks in popularity with Mr. Chrétien, despite widespread accusations that the Prime Minister displayed an anti-Alberta bias during last fall's election campaign and has fuelled Western alienation.
Some 54% of Albertans disapproved of Mr. Chrétien's performance, while 44% approved.
Mr. Clark, who defied the odds and won his seat in Calgary Centre in November, has soared to a 60% approval rating, up from just 32% in August.
"What a difference six months and a seat in Parliament makes," Ipsos-Reid vice-president Mark Henry said.
While the Alliance virtually swept Alberta in the fall election, Mr. Day's standing has suffered in his home province because he failed to lead the party to a much-anticipated breakthrough in Ontario, and because of the postelection controversy involving the provincial government's payments of his legal bills, Mr. Henry said.
The Alliance leader has been widely criticized in Alberta for running up publicly funded legal bills rather reaching an early settlement in a lawsuit with Red Deer lawyer Lorne Goddard.
Mr. Goddard sued Mr. Day after the latter wrote a letter to the Red Deer Advocate in 1999 criticizing the lawyer and school-board trustee for representing a pedophile. The episode ended with the former provincial treasurer's settlement costing provincial taxpayers nearly $800,000.
Mr. Day has been under fire from within the party for a lacklustre election campaign, prompting whisperings about how long he will keep his job.
"It is going to take him some time to rebuild his credibility with the Alberta public, assuming the party gives him the time," Mr. Henry said.
The Alliance leader has been looking to regain his momentum, in part by bringing new staff into his office. Mr. Day announced Thursday that Ezra Levant, a former editorial writer for The National Post, is taking over as his director of communications.
In his first day on the job, Mr. Levant shrugged off the bad poll news, saying it was the result of "distractions" during the postelection period, before the House of Commons resumed at the end of January. "Stockwell Day's strengths are issues," he said. "We've just come out of a few months where Parliament has just started up again, and we had an interregnum there where there wasn't a real forum for issues."
He said Mr. Day will gain Canadians' support by focusing on issues like the feared recession and the Liberal inaction on it, and the potential for friction between the Chrétien Liberals and the new Republican administration of U.S. President George W. Bush.
"Once we get back on the issues, Stockwell Day will shine because he is right on those issues," Mr. Levant said.
We know how quickly memory can fade. Day failed to get the number of seats in Parliament he expected. Nonethtless, he is elected and will lead the Opposition. We saw in the election campaign how he slipped around direct questions about his agenda, rewriting his history without recanting any of it . . . we will keep this page up to refresh everyone's memory.
Below are some of Stockwell Day's comments and positions on: Abortion, Gay and Lesbian Issues, Justice, Education, Democracy, Health Care, Women's Issues, Culture etc. It is a real eye opener! Please post this far and wide to let others across Canada know what he really stands for. Voters outside Alberta don't have a sense of who Day is and where he comes from. As he woos a national constituency, Mr. Day stresses his fiscal record and downplays his social conservatism and evangelical Christian background.
He has an excellent advisor and spin doctor -- Rod Love, Premier Ralph Klein's associate for two decades.
Mr. Day frequently points to his past record and suggests it speak for him
If you have friends or family living outside Alberta, may I suggest that you forward this email so that they may be better educated about Mr. Day's past record. (Added comments are in brackets.)
JUSTICE: In 1994, Mr. Day advocated the death penalty for teenagers convicted of first-degree murder.
He has advocated American-style work camps for some young offenders.
In 1997, he drew condemnation from all political stripes when, in a speech,he suggested serial-child killer Clifford Olson should be dealt with by fellow prisoners.
"People like myself say, "Fix the problem. Put him in the general (prison) population. The moral prisoners will deal with it in a way which we don't have the nerve to do.''
ABORTION: In 1988 Mr. Day said granting greater access to abortion would prompt a rise in child abuse. "The thinking is," he said, "if you can cut a child to pieces or burn them alive with salt solution while they're still in the womb, what's wrong with knocking them around a little when they're outside the womb." (Mr. Day fought hard to have abortion in Alberta de-insured by Medicare.) --from the Calgary Herald, June 12, 1995
Labour Minister Stockwell Day's comments arising out of the legislature's all-Tory community services committee may have provided a defining moment in the debate over abortion funding in Alberta.
The Red Deer Tory, who proudly wears his Christian fundamentalist principles on both sleeves, declared Alberta health care should only pay for abortions required to save the mother's life.
Asked if that excluded a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, he did not waver, answering that medical necessity is the only grounds he would accept.
"Women who become pregnant through rape or incest should not qualify for government funded abortions unless their pregnancy is life-threatening."
GAYS & LESBIANS: (Mr. Day, a leading opponent of gay rights, was bitterly opposed to the Supreme Court's decision to force Alberta to include homosexuals in its human rights act. He tried to get his government to invoke the notwithstanding clause to overturn the Supreme Court decision writing protection of gays in the human rights code.) --Calgary Herald, April 9, 1998
"The freedom for homosexuals to choose their lifestyle is there. But when I'm asked to legislate, in some way, approval of their choice, then I have a problem,'' he says. "How can I do this without a mandate to alter in public policy a centuries-old definition of what a natural family is?''
"The homosexual issue is a real source of concern because they don't know how far it's going to go,'' Day says. "There is a concern, yet to be determined, that it can't be stopped. These type of unknowns have people alarmed.
"The same people who don't want to see homosexuality in their sex education curriculum and same people who don't want to see gay parades in their city also say people shouldn't be fired just because they're homosexual.
You know what? People miss this, but people are not being fired because they are homosexual.'' "Homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured by counseling." He has said homosexuality is "not condoned by God'' and maintains being gay is a matter of choice. --The Edmonton Journal, August 16, 1997
Alberta Treasurer Stockwell Day wants the Red Deer museum to return $10,000 in lotteries money because it is doing a study on gays.
"We all make mistakes and they made a mistake in pursuing a project which purports to reflect the sexual choices of 1% of the population,'' Day said in an interview.
Some statistics suggest between four to 10% of the general population is homosexual. (Mr. Day was appointed minister of family and social services in 1996. For several years he enforced an unwritten policy not to approve "non-traditional families'' for adoption.)
EDUCATION: From 1979-85, Day was administrator of the "Bentley Christian Training Centre'' -- an independent school of 100 students and six teachers run by the Bentley Christian Centre, a fundamentalist Pentecostal church, 25 kilometers north-west of Red Deer.
The Bentley Christian School taught the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum.
The ACE program was American-based and was rooted in a literal interpretation of the Bible. It taught creationism over evolution, for example. A 1985 government audit of the general curriculum concluded ACE students were rarely called upon to be creative, original or critical. The were concerned the program created "a degree of insensitivity towards blacks, Jews and natives.''
In newspaper articles at the time, Day vigorously denied the curriculum was bigoted in any way.
"God's law is clear," an angry Day told Alberta Report in 1984. "Standards of education are not set by government, but by God, the Bible, the home and the school." Day refused in an interview recently to say if he still believes that.
South MLA Victor Doerksen created a stir when he called on the government to remove all books from Alberta's school curriculum that demean God or Jesus Christ. He produced the award-winning novel Of Mice and Men as a novel he considers unacceptable.
The book was brought to his attention by a Wetaskiwin man who was unsuccessful in getting it banned from schools. Doerksen introduced a petition from 881 Albertans wanting all education literature removed that is intolerant of religion, and profanes the name of God or Jesus
Labour Minister Stockwell Day, MLA for Red Deer North, supported the move. (This happened in the middle of the national Freedom to Read Week, 1996)
DEMOCRACY: (Mr. Day's sneering, high-handed behaviour in the Legislature is well-known to Albertans who have attended a sitting. The Alberta Legislature has a sad history of limiting debate, too much to go into here. The recent Bill 11 Private Healthcare Bill was just the latest example.
Here's an editorial from 1995's Edmonton Journal.)
So Stockwell Day is fantasizing "in kind of a blue-sky way'' about canceling the fall sitting of the legislature. The government house leader knows that too much democracy is a dangerous thing. "The longer we're in here, the temptation is too great to come up with more laws and more regulation,'' he says. Even if the Conservatives resist the urge to work, Day believes the Liberals will fill up the empty hours with yelling. Those pests. His ears hurt. He wants to go home.
Why not shut down the legislature altogether, Mr. Day? The Alberta taxpayer would save $15,000 for every day the door was locked. The new dictatorship would never have to listen to questions, answer questions or debate public concerns. The opposition would not exist. It would be so quiet in Alberta, wouldn't it? You could go home to Red Deer North, and stay there, and never come back. Think of it.
HEALTHCARE: (Mr. Day was part of the Alberta Cabinet that decided to cut the Health Care Budget by over 30% while at the same time hiking up "premiums" so that "fees" paid by individuals to government were made to cover all the actual costs without resorting to any tax funds what so ever.)
CULTURE: --Ottawa Citizen, June 8, 2000 "Stockwell Day added he would eventually end all taxpayer financing of CBC television and eliminate all cultural subsidies to all cultural institutions and individuals."
OTHER TIDBITS: When elected in Red Deer North in 1986, Mr. Day made an evangelical-style speech that made explicit his literal believe in the Bible. Mr. Day is a Creationist. In 1987, he raised the hackles of women's groups when he disputed a poll indicating one million women had been abused physically, emotionally, sexually or economically.
Mr. Day was appointed minister of Labour in 1992. He made Alberta's minimum wage the lowest in the country.
He has called official bilingualism an "irritant'' and questioned the effectiveness of sex education in the schools.
"There is a growing body of literature suggesting that, as sex education becomes more comprehensive, there is a corresponding increase in sexual activity."
(In fact, the opposite is true. Canada has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the west)
(All these quotes are available online. If you need citations, just drop a line - email@example.com.)
What a relief. Those fierce defenders of women's and gay rights Ralph Klein and the Harris Tories assure us we don't have to worry about Stockwell Day's extreme social conservative views.
As someone who spent the better part of a decade fighting for women's right to choose, I prefer to look at his record.
In 1988 he said granting greater access to abortion would prompt a rise in child abuse.
"The thinking is," he said, "if you can cut a child to pieces or burn them alive with salt solution while they're still in the womb, what's wrong with knocking them around a little when they're outside the womb."
He evaded questions from Wendy Mesley on CBC's The National Magazine this week about where he would stand on a free vote in Parliament on abortion. "I have no idea where that would go," he responded. But only a week before he told the Ottawa Citizen that if a majority of his constituents wanted him to vote pro-choice, he would not be able to.
"I do believe life begins at conception. The very first time I ran for election, I took out an editorial in the local newspaper and said 'look I am a democrat. (But) on this issue, because I see it as a human rights issue, if you wanted me to vote to promote that I wouldn't be able to do that."
Anti-abortion groups that played a major role in organizing support for his leadership campaign told the Vancouver Sun that they wouldn't expect abortion to be banned under a Stockwell Day government, at least not right away. They expect that the issue would once again come to the forefront and that Day would work, as he did in Alberta, to end funding for abortion services by pronouncing them medically unnecessary.
Of course, the hopes of the anti-abortion groups don't fit very well with Day's radical decentralist positions. Neither do the hopes of religious minorities that Day will support public funding for religious schools. Nevertheless this week on CFRB radio in Toronto, an orthodox Jew, fundamentalist Moslem and a Mormon all called to say that Day had told their communities that he would support public funding of private religious schools. Not even the most centralist Canadian Prime Minister in history has interfered with primary education, yet Day promises to do so.
Day fiercely supports the rights of religious schools to teach whatever they want and to hire whomever they want. He told Alberta Report in 1984, "Standards of education are not set by government but by God, the Bible, the home and the school."
On gay rights, he says he supports the Liberal position against gay marriage. But it was Day who tried to get his government in invoke the notwithstanding clause to overturn the Supreme Court decision writing protection of gays in the human rights code.
I was in the studio when BC talk show host Rafe Mair questioned Day about his views on gay rights at the beginning of his campaign for the Alliance leadership. After trying to dodge a series of hard questions, Day finally explained that he felt similarly when a constituent asked him to make bigamy legal.
"I told him, said Day, " if you want to live with two women, that's your choice but we cannot make it legal."
"Are you actually suggesting that a same sex relationship is the same as bigamy?" asked Mair incredulously.
Stockwell Day is a deeply conservative man reflecting views similar to the Moral Majority in the United States. He is so right wing on social issues, he makes Preston Manning look like Gloria Steinem.
Perhaps, like Manning, Day would quietly shelve his views under the pressure of the desire for political power in a country where more than 80% are pro-choice and a significant majority support gay rights but, that's not what he's done in Alberta.
At the very least his election would give new voice and energy to the anti-feminist, anti-gay, fundamentalist religious forces who have been sidelined politically in the 1990's.
There is one silver lining in the cloud of Stockwell Day's leadership bid. Having such a strong opponent of women's and gay rights in the position of leader of the official opposition might just remobilize a women's movement that has lacked a central focus for while. It might also draw the attention of some of those young who are taking to the streets to fight globalization to what's happening in party politics right here at home.
A visitor wrote: I am a big supporter of Stockwell Day. A lot of the stuff you have posted about him is rubbish and I assure you, quite misleading. You should know, having dealt with the bullshit that you've had to, that if the message is coming from the CBC you should ignore it. The CBC is a public relations branch of the Liberal Party of Canada and exists for no other reason than to secure their continued dominance. Stockwell Day is a decent guy who like me, you and everyone else, probably said some things he might wish he hadn't years down the road. Remember, only the Liberals and Conservatives have appointed the judges and prosecutors who, in reckless and drunken rages have imprisoned the innocent and ruined the lives of the falsely accused. Mr. Day is clean in this regard. Other than your smear against him, I congratulate you on a compelling and important endeavour.
Sheila Steele replied: Regarding Stockwell Day, I think your remarks may be well taken -- to a point. I think it was a mistake to politicize the site in any way. I was sent the information by some gay friends who felt very strongly about it. Then I didn't hear anything from Day himself that contradicted it. I did think he handled the Doris thing with good humour and it is too bad Ralph Klein didn't get the joke. Certainly, I think we all have to deal with our pasts, especially if we are in public life. Even if Day himself no longer stands by some of these statements, I think a lot of his support is among people who would want him to . . .