Published September 16, 2012 | 10:32 am
Toronto: A quiet summer has given Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives some breathing room as they head Monday into what could be an acrimonious fall sitting of Parliament.
A new poll gives the governing party a seven-point lead over the Opposition New Democrats _ a cushion they may need if a second omnibus budget implementation bill sparks the same public backlash and all-out parliamentary warfare its predecessor did last spring.
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey, which was conducted Aug. 30-Sept. 10, put Conservative support at 34 per cent of respondents, the NDP at 27, the Liberals at 24 and the Greens at seven.
The telephone poll of 2,007 Canadians is considered accurate within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
The results suggest Canadians may be slowly returning to “more traditional patterns of voting behaviour,” said Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg.
Until now, New Democrats had been running neck and neck with _ or even slightly ahead of _ the ruling party, eating into core Conservative support among older, male and rural voters and core Liberal support among female and urban voters.
The latest poll suggests those voters are migrating back to their traditional choices, said Gregg, causing NDP support to sag and producing modest gains for the Conservatives and Liberals.
The election of a minority separatist government in Quebec could also put national unity concerns, dormant for more than a decade, back in the spotlight.
According to the Harris-Decima poll, the NDP were leading in Quebec with 31 per cent support, compared with 25 per cent for the Bloc Quebecois, 24 for the Liberals, 15 for the Tories and four for the Greens.
The Conservatives had a 10-point lead in Ontario, with 39 per cent to the Liberals’ 29, the NDP’s 23 and the Greens’ six.
The NDP and Conservatives were tied at 33 per cent in British Columbia, with the Liberals at 19 and the Greens at 13.
The Conservatives held a commanding lead in Alberta and Manitoba/Saskatchewan. But they trailed with only 25 per cent in Atlantic Canada, where the NDP and Liberals were statistically tied at 34 and 32 per cent, respectively.
(The Canadian Press).
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