OTTAWA — Canadian Alliance strategists are
shrugging off a public opinion poll showing lost support across the
country, and claim the party's support is holding, especially in its
traditional Western base.
In a poll conducted for The Star and CBC, EKOS Research Associates
Inc. found the Canadian Alliance has dramatically slipped below the Tories
and the NDP, especially in Ontario, and lost ground in the Alliance
heartland of Alberta.
EKOS found voters would overwhelmingly support the Liberals if an
election were held tomorrow, with 53.1 per cent stating they would vote
Liberal. The Conservatives came second at 14.7 per cent; the NDP was third
at 10.6 per cent, and the Alliance trailed at 10.5 per cent. The Bloc
Québécois registered 8 per cent approval, with its support only in Quebec.
In Alberta, the Liberals were at 34 per cent, the Tories at 25 per
cent, and the Alliance at 23 per cent. The NDP was a distant fourth at 13
In Ontario, the numbers paint an even starker picture, with the
Liberals at 64 per cent, the Tories at 17 per cent, the NDP at 9 per cent,
and the Alliance sitting at 8 per cent.
"We're not worried about the EKOS numbers because they run counter
to all other recent polls and plain old common sense," Alliance
communications director Jim Armour.
"The interviews were done within 24 hours of the Prime Minister's
retirement announcement and right in the middle of the Tory convention,
which was giving the Conservatives probably the most media coverage in the
last seven years," he added.
"I'd argue it's impossible to get a realistic snapshot of what
Canadians are thinking in the midst of two fairly significant political
But Tories are buoyed by the results.
"It shows that Canadians are looking at us again seriously, and we
have to earn that continued attention," said Tory MP and House leader
Peter MacKay of Nova Scotia.
"And the way to do that is through substantive policy and
addressing the big issues, the five big E's: the economy, the environment,
everybody's health, ethics and education. That's what people want to hear
"Unity issue for me now is uniting people now behind our party, not
uniting parties," said MacKay, a likely candidate for the upcoming Tory
Alliance pollster Dimitri Pantazopoulos, of Praxicus Public
Strategy, said other opinion surveys within the past few weeks have put
the Alliance between 16 and 18 per cent nationally, and placed the Tories
at between 12 and 16 per cent.
But another major survey — conducted by the Ipsos-Reid polling firm
before the Prime Minister's retirement announcement and the Tory
convention — also saw the Tories moving ahead of the Alliance party
nationally with 18 per cent versus 16 per cent support for the Alliance.
Pantazopoulos also disputed the finding that the Alliance had
slipped in its Western stronghold, saying "support in the West has
solidified since last year" when the party hit a low-water mark of 6 per
cent in some polls, but he declined to release any of the party's internal
Pantazopoulos conceded Harper is not very well known in Ontario,
and said the Alliance will have to get back "on a policy agenda" in order
to make gains in public opinion in Ontario.
"People have to know you stand for something as opposed to always
As for the Alliance's dismal showing in Ontario, Armour suggested
regional breakdowns in polls have higher margins of error "so I don't know
whether these polls are particularly useful in getting a snapshot at
what's happening in a particular province."