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Conservative Party lead over Liberals all but evaporated, poll suggests

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In a file photo, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (3rd L) listens to Chief of the Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk (R) during a meeting with Haitian-Canadian community leaders to discuss the earthquake in Haiti, in Harper's Langevin Block office in Ottawa. Also pictured are Foreign Minister Lawren
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In a file photo, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper (3rd L) listens to Chief of the Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk (R) during a meeting with Haitian-Canadian community leaders to discuss the earthquake in Haiti, in Harper’s Langevin Block office in Ottawa. Also pictured are Foreign Minister Lawren
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Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters
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OTTAWA – Stephen Harper’s Conservatives hold only a slim lead over the Liberals, according to a new national poll that suggests the government’s decisive response to the earthquake in Haiti has not translated into big political dividends for the Tories.

The poll, conducted exclusively for Canwest News Service and Global National, said the Conservatives would garner 34 per cent of the vote if an election was held today, compared to 31 per cent for the Liberals.

The NDP would capture 17 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois nine per cent and the Green Party eight per cent, the poll suggests.

The poll by Ipsos-Reid is the third national sampling of voter intentions released within the past week that has said the Tory lead over the Grits has all but evaporated.

In Ontario, they were neck-and-neck with the Liberals at 38 per cent and Conservatives at 37 per cent. In Quebec, the Bloc held the lead at 37 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 30 per cent and the Conservatives at 15 per cent.

National support for the Conservative party was down three points from the 37 per cent support it enjoyed in November. On the other hand, Liberal support was seven points higher than the dismal 24 per cent the party scored in a survey two months ago.

Pollster Darrell Bricker traced the Conservatives’ slide and the Liberals’ sharp uptick in support to voter backlash over Harper’s decision to suspend Parliament until March 3, and said it appears to have nothing to do with anything Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and his party have done.

“It’s completely a reaction to Stephen Harper,” said Bricker, president of Ipsos-Reid.

Bricker said many voters see his decision to prorogue Parliament as more evidence of Harper’s pre-occupation with political scheming.

“It’s not because people have a really big issue with proroguing the House,” Bricker said. “It’s really the (political) games, that’s what gets under people’s skin. That’s what you are seeing the effects of (in the poll).”

Bricker said the last time Harper suffered such a political hit was when he slipped a “poison pill” into the government’s economic update in the fall of 2008 that would have ended public funding of political parties.

Bricker said that although the Harper Conservatives have not scored a “partisan burst” of support for the speedy response to the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, it’s still early days. “People haven’t seen this is political terms yet,” he said.

Bricker argued the latest polls should be taken with a grain of salt on grounds there appears to be no major issue driving voter opinion.

“It’s a bit like the silly season right now,” he said. “It’s kind of like the summer.”

The poll, conducted Tuesday through Thursday, involved telephone interviews with 1,000 adults. In a sampling that size, the national results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error for the provincial breakdowns is higher.

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Written by thecanadianheadlines

January 25, 2010 at 7:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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