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30% of Canadians Believe Politicians Take Bribes: Poll

By Susanna Kelley

New polling data obtained by OntarioNewsWatch indicates almost a third of Canadians believe politicians frequently take bribes, and an overwhelming majority of people believe bad behaviour in private life makes them unfit to hold public office. 

Over 80 per cent of those polled believe a politician who is dishonest in their private life cannot be trusted as a steward of the public good.

Some of the results of the Gandalf Group poll are astounding.

The survey found 27 per cent believe politicians frequently take bribes.

What's more, 39 per cent believe those in public life often use it for personal gain.

And that argument that Rob Ford's crack smoking, alcohol addiction and domestic abuse police visits are his own business and have nothing to do with how he does his job as mayor?  Most Canadians are having none of it.

According to the poll, 75 per cent believe a past conviction for domestic abuse would make a politician unfit to represent them in government, while addiction issues put politicians out of the running for 71 per cent. 

The most serious indiscretion for those polled? A full 89 per cent cite a past fraud conviction. Failing to pay child support would make a person unfit to run for 70 per cent.

Interestingly only 33 per cent say cheating on a spouse should make someone unfit for office - perhaps explaining a lot about Bill Clinton's enduring popularity.

The numbers help explain why voter turnout keeps decreasing, and how people are much more willing to switch party allegiances, according to Gandalf Group's David Herle.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said.

Mr. Herle is well versed in the historical role party affiliation has played in garnering votes. A long-time political operative, he also co-chaired the Liberal campaign in Ontario last June.

Speaking of which, the poll also asked what was the most effective way for a party to stop a tarnished leader from pulling down its support at the ballot box.

Resignation topped the list by a wide margin, with unequivocal apologies lagging far behind. 

It may well be, then, that Dalton McGuinty's resignation was a critical piece in saving the Liberals from defeat in the last election after being mired in the gas plant scandal for several years.

The poll was conducted for the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership program at Ryerson University.

The online poll sampled 1039 people with an additional 200 in the Greater Toronto Area from October 17 to 22.  The larger sample has a margin of error (MOE) of plus or minus 3.1 per cent.  The GTA sample has a MOE of plus or minus 4.86 per cent. The online poll sampled 1039 people with an additional 200 in the Greater Toronto Area from October 17 to 22.  The larger sample has a margin of error (MOE) of plus or minus 3.1 per cent.  The GTA sample has a MOE of plus or minus 4.86 per cent. 

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