AMHERST – The chairman of the Atlantic Conservative caucus is not concerned with his party’s declining polling numbers in the region.
Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong, who was appointed caucus chairman last fall, said he doesn’t place a lot of faith in polling.
“The election is over a thousand days away, so you can’t place too much attention to polls this early,” Armstrong said. “When you look back to when (Michael) Ignatieff was first elected Liberal leader they werepolling really strongly in Atlantic Canada, but in the 2011 election we won 14 seats – the most seats in Atlantic Canada for any party.
“Polls are polls. The only one that matters is the one on election day.”
On Tuesday, Corporate Research Associates released a poll showing the federal Liberals have taken the lead in voter support in the region, increasing to 36 per cent from 23 per cent in 2011. It’s the first time they’ve taken the lead in voter intentions since August 2010.
Support for the governing Conservatives is down to 30 per cent from 39 per cent a year ago, while the New Democrats have the support of 30 per cent (down from 36 per cent a year ago).
Support for the party is also down in Nova Scotia, dropping to 29 per cent in November from 36 per cent a year previous.
Even though the party doesn’t place too much stock in the polling numbers, he said it does indicate the Conservatives have some work to do in Atlantic Canada before the next election, scheduled for October 2015.
“If you look at the economy across the country it’s still pretty fragile, and if you look at the job creation numbers here in November compared to the rest of the country we’re lagging behind,” Armstrong said.
As Atlantic caucus chairman, Armstrong said part of his job is making sure there is a strong voice for the region with the caucus. He credits Defence Minister Peter MacKay his work on behalf of Nova Scotia and the region.
“We have good representation in cabinet with Peter. We don’t have to worry too much about that,” Armstrong said. “The Atlantic caucus gives the rest of the caucus our ideas on what the priorities should be.”
He stressed the government has not lost touch with the region and continues to focus on the economy and job creation. Armstrong said some recent federal investments, such as the shipbuilding contract and support for Muskrat Falls, have yet to be felt in the region. Once those projects take hold and begin creating jobs, he feels political attitudes will change.
The poll is part of the CRA Atlantic Quarterly, an independent survey of Atlantic Canadians. It’s accurate to within plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 95 times out of 100.