Nov. 10, 2004
Miro Cernetig 
Graham Fraser 
Richard Gwyn 
Stephen Handelman 
Chantal Hebert 
James Travers 
Ian Urquhart 
Thomas Walkom 
Make Parliament work: Poll
Tories need caution, pollster says
Liberal support up since election


OTTAWA—Canadians would most likely blame the Conservatives if the minority government in Ottawa collapses, according to a new poll out today.

A full 46 per cent of respondents to a Toronto Star-EKOS survey said the Conservative opposition would be most likely to benefit from a fall of Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal government.

EKOS concluded that the public "would probably assign more responsibility/censure to the Conservatives who are seen as most poised to benefit."

When EKOS asked people about how they would feel about an imminent election, 56 per cent said they would rather the parties co-operated and made the minority Parliament work. That isn't to say, though, that an imminent election would be totally out of the question.

The poll says 40 per cent of people want parties to "stick to their principles even if it means risking another election."

"It's apparent that the Conservative party would probably wear the mantle of mischief-maker if the government fell," EKOS president Frank Graves says. "But there's little upside for any party in provoking an election now.

"Clearly the expectation from the public is: `We voted for this mess, we might as well see it through.'"

The poll was conducted by telephone last month, through interviews with 1,237 people 18 years of age or older. The results are considered accurate within 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Graves believes the poll results show why all the federal parties are treading cautiously in this new minority Parliament, wary of enraging a public that is largely tepid in its enthusiasm for anything happening in the federal scene right now.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper should probably be the most cautious, Graves says.

Though Martin's Liberals have regained a comfortable lead in party-standing results with 37.2 per cent, Conservatives are still close to their election strength with 26.8 per cent. (In the June 28 election, 36.7 per cent of Canadians voted Liberal, while 29.6 per cent voted Conservative.) New Democrats, who attracted about 15 per cent support in June, are now at 17.4 per cent, while the Bloc Québécois is at 10.4 per cent.

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