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Liberal popularity soaring: poll
WebPosted Fri Aug 31 10:07:23 2001

OTTAWA - A new poll confirms what Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the Liberals already know from their own polling: support for their party and their leader is soaring right across the country.

Frank Graves

"The Liberals exert a stranglehold over the Canadian political landscape today, and they appear poised to continue that for some time in the future," said Frank Graves whose company, Ekos Research Associates, conducted the survey for the CBC and Radio-Canada in partnership with the Toronto Star and La Presse.

More than 3,000 Canadians were asked: If a federal election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?

The majority, 52.6 per cent said they would choose the Liberals. That's up from 40.9 per cent on election day last November.

The Conservatives are a distant second at 17.9 per cent. But that's up from 12.2 per cent last year.

The Canadian Alliance is at 9.8 per cent. On election day the Alliance was at 25.5 per cent.

The NDP is at 9.1 per cent compared to 8.5 per cent. And the Bloc Québécois is at 8.2 per cent, down from 10.7 per cent.

Graves said the numbers show the Canadian Alliance party is slipping into oblivion everywhere. Even in the former Alliance bastions of Alberta and British Columbia the Liberals are in the lead.

Not only is the Alliance party suffering badly, so is the leader. The poll suggests only 10 per cent of Canadians have a high level of trust in Stockwell Day, compared with 26 per cent just before the last election.

Canadians' level of trust in party leaders

Graves said the poll is Day's political obituary. "As a viable leader of a national government, I think he's effectively dead."

By contrast, the poll suggests that Tory leader Joe Clark is enjoying a remarkable turnaround.

"Joe Clark is our political Lazarus," said Graves. "He's managed to rehabilitate himself." The poll shows 38 per cent have a high level of trust in Clark now, compared with 19 per cent a year ago.

But Chrétien's trust level is ahead of everyone at 45 per cent.

And there's more good news for the federal Liberals. The poll indicates that the sovereignty movement in Quebec is losing steam.

The poll, conducted between July 26 and August 29, finds that 58 per cent of Quebecers would now vote "no" versus 42 per cent who support sovereignty, or the "yes" side.

Federalists have not been stronger in the province in 20 years.

Compare that to the 1995 referendum result, a squeaker where the federalist forces won 50.6 per cent, with the sovereigntists close behind at 49.4 per cent.

Jean Chretien

The poll also shows for the first time that Chrétien is the most popular leader on the political scene in Quebec.

Graves called this turnaround for Chrétien "breathtaking."

"He's almost doubled the sense of confidence, or trust in him today compared to three or four years ago."

Graves said that if nothing changes, Chrétien could easily go for and win a fourth term. But he added that much of the support across the country is tied to confidence in the economy. If that should drop, so too could Liberal fortunes.

The poll is accurate plus or minus 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The Quebec section of the poll has a larger margin of error of 3.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Written by CBC News Online staff

Sasa Petricic reports for CBC TV

Norman Hermant reports for CBC TV on the economic aspects of the poll

[Download Players]


  CBC Morning's Helen Mann speaks to Frank Graves of Ekos Research about his survey

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