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This article was published 23/8/2009 (4658 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives have surged to a big lead over the opposition Liberals in the eyes of Canadian voters, reveals a new poll, a trend that could dampen speculation of a fall election.
In a discouraging sign for the Liberals, party leader Michael Ignatieff trails the prime minister on bread-and-butter issues at the forefront of many Canadians' minds, such as the ability to steer the economy through recovery and rebalance the country's finances. If the trend continues, Ignatieff could soon be facing roughly the same poll numbers as his beleaguered predecessor, Stephane Dion.
The Conservatives now command 39 per cent in support among decided voters, compared with 28 per cent for the Liberals, according to the survey, conducted exclusively for Canwest News Service and Global National by Ipsos Reid. Since the last Ipsos poll two months ago, the Tories have climbed five percentage points, while the Grits have slumped seven points.
The NDP stand in third at 14 per cent of the vote, up one point; followed by the Green party at 10 per cent, up two points. The Bloc Quebecois posted eight per cent in support nationally, while seven per cent of respondents were undecided.
The poll comes amid speculation that the government could fall shortly after Parliament returns from summer break on Sept. 14. Last spring, Harper and Ignatieff averted a summer election by agreeing to form a bipartisan working group to study employment insurance reforms, but the panel hasn't agreed on much.
The Liberals will have the opportunity as early as Sept. 30 to table a non-confidence motion in the government. Both the NDP and the Bloc have indicated they would not prop up the Conservatives.
But Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker said the Liberals would be better advised to hold their fire and give Ignatieff, a former journalist and Harvard academic who returned to Canada to run for Parliament in the 2006 election, more time to build a national profile. According to the poll, 49 per cent of Canadians believe the Liberals are not ready to govern the country, compared with 47 per cent who do.
"The problem is that people don't really know him very well. Even the people who want to be supportive are somewhat tentative," said Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Reid Public Affairs.
-- Canwest News Service