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Opposition to C-51 Moves Support to the NDP, New Poll Shows

Stephen Harper's controversial anti-terror bill may have proved to be a loser for both the Conservatives and Liberals.

by Justin Ling
Jun 29 2015, 4:17pm

Graphics via Forum Research

Canadians aren't the biggest fans of C-51, the anti-terrorism bill that is now law.

While that much might have been clear for months, a new poll shows how the debate over the issue may help explain the NDP's rise in the polls.

Video via DAILY VICE

A survey conducted by Forum Research on June 22-23 and provided exclusively to VICE shows that opposition to C-51 is as high as it's ever been, as fully 41 percent of Canadians are against the security legislation, while 39 percent support it. A sizable 20 percent of those polled were unsure about C-51.

What's more important for Canada's three main political parties is exactly who is opposed to the bill.

The poll found that more than half of those who voted for the NDP, Liberal, Green, and, in Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois, in the last election are unhappy with C-51. Unsurprisingly, 61 percent of those who cast their ballot for Stephen Harper in 2011 are supportive of the legislation.

C-51, of course, vastly expands information sharing between organizations like CSIS and CSE, while making it possible for Canada's spies to "disrupt" threats.

The poll shows that many of the opponents of the bill may have already jumped ship from the Liberal Party, who endorsed the bill.

The NDP are currently sitting on top of the polls, with an eight-point lead over the Liberals and Conservatives. That's near majority territory.

The Liberals, meanwhile, have maintained that they want to fix the bill if they get elected, but that they support the legislation in broad strokes. When we sat down with Trudeau earlier in June, he insisted that his party was in total agreement with his decision.

A quarter of those who voted Liberal in 2011 said the debate around C-51 made them more likely to vote NDP.

The effect is especially pronounced among youth, who are the most likely to oppose the law. Nearly 30 percent of those under 35 said their opposition to the anti-terrorism law would push them to support Thomas Mulcair's party.

It's not all bad news for the Liberals, however. About one-in-ten said they would be more likely to vote Liberal because of C-51, which is slightly higher than those who said Trudeau's support for it had turned them off of the Liberal Party.

When Forum asked, earlier this month, what issues would push Canadians to change their vote, over half said a party vowing to repeal C-51 could earn their vote. That put it below some other mainstays of political concern—healthcare, pensions—but nevertheless put it in a tier of issues that may actually make a difference, especially in pushing youth to go to the polls.

The last time VICE checked in on support for the bill, more than half of those who were aware of the bill opposed it. This time, Forum asked everyone, even those who weren't very familiar with the law.

The poll, conducted on June 22 and 23, randomly phoned 1,268 people. It is considered accurate +/- three percent, 19 times out of 20.

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