Thestar.com
Liberals ahead in every region
Tim Harper
OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF
OTTAWA — One year after a federal election, the Liberals continue to hold a dominating lead in national voting preference and are ahead of their rivals in every region of the country, a new EKOS Research poll says.

The Toronto Star/La Presse/SRC poll gave the Liberals under Jean Chrétien 54 per cent of decided voting support. The Progressive Conservatives are a distant second with 16 per cent while the Canadian Alliance, in the early stages of a leadership race, have stagnated at 11 per cent.

EKOS found the NDP with 10 per cent of the decided vote.

The Bloc Québécois is at 7 per cent nationally and 31 per cent in Quebec. But the Liberals easily outdistanced the BQ in Quebec, with 58 per cent support.

The numbers have barely moved since the most recent EKOS polling, but their static nature would be most troubling to the Canadian Alliance, which has received no boost from a post-Sept. 11 environment that took the focus away from outgoing leader Stockwell Day's foibles and the ongoing internal soap opera which dogged the party last summer.

EKOS polled 1,200 Canadians between Monday and Wednesday. It included decided voters and those "leaning" toward a party and says results are accurate within plus-or-minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Pollster Frank Graves said the Liberals, who lead in every region of the country, including Alberta, cannot realistically expect approval ratings beyond what they have today and will inevitably begin to drop over the next six months as the economy sours.

"They are propped up by the fact that people are still generally happy with their lives," Graves said, "and they are not going to rock that boat for Stockwell Day or (Alliance leadership challenger) Stephen Harper, or (Progressive Conservative Leader) Joe Clark."

In Ontario, the Liberals have 58 per cent support, the Tories have 20 per cent, the Alliance and the NDP 10 per cent each.



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