Federal Liberals have lock on voters
Poll shows 55% back party, Tories at 19%, Alliance stuck at 9%
Caroline Mallan
The federal Liberal stranglehold on voter support is stronger than ever, a new national public opinion survey shows.

Despite recent party infighting among potential leadership rivals, support for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's Liberals rests at 55 per cent.

In the November, 2000 general election, which gave Chrétien his third straight majority government, the Liberals garnered 41 per cent of the popular vote.

The party that comes closest to the Liberals is Joe Clark's Progressive Conservatives, with 19 per cent support federally, according to the Toronto Star poll conducted by Ekos Research Associates Inc.

Frank Graves, president of Ekos, said one of the most noteworthy aspects of the poll is the continued dismal support for the Canadian Alliance.

"The Alliance is effectively dead and the NDP is on life-support," Graves said of the 9 per cent support at which each of the two parties stands.

Graves said if there is any sort of a popularity boost, it rests with the Tories.

`The Alliance is effectively dead and the NDP is on life-support.'

Frank Graves

Ekos Research

"The Tories under Clark are doing pretty well, they're essentially exactly where they were at right before the last election," he said.

"There is a little bit of wind in the sails of the Tories right now."

The Tories are poised to see a rise in their support as key former Canadian Alliance members, including Deborah Grey and Chuck Strahl, contemplate officially joining the party after several months spent in the Democratic Representative Caucus coalition.

On a provincial breakdown, the Liberals lead all other parties in every province, including Alberta and British Columbia, the traditional base of support for the Alliance.

The Tories also lead the Alliance in every province except B.C.

In Ontario, the Liberals enjoy their highest level of support at 62 per cent, compared to 22 per cent for the Tories, 9 per cent for the NDP and 6 per cent for the Alliance.

The Liberals are also enjoying unprecedented support in Quebec with 54 per cent backing there, compared to just 25 per cent for the Bloc Québécois.

"That's unheard of. I don't even think Trudeau had a wider lead than that in Quebec," Graves said of the poll, which found that Quebec's sovereignty movement is "moribund."

The survey of 3,016 Canadians, taken during the last two weeks of January, is considered accurate within 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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