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[Ottawa – September 3, 2009] – For the second year running, Canadians head into the Labour Day weekend with talk of a federal election in the air. But this time, neither party has reason to feel confident of the outcome.

This week’s EKOS Research poll, conducted for the CBC, finds the ruling Conservatives in a dead heat with the Liberals. In each of EKOS’s weekly polls through July and August, the race between the two parties has been very, very close. This week, the Liberals have erased a small but persistent lead enjoyed by the Conservatives in recent weeks by improving their fortunes in the crucial battleground of Ontario.

In contrast, in a pre-Labour Day poll EKOS conducted last year, the Conservatives had a big lead: they were at 37% and the Liberals at 24% — not far off the results on election day in October.

Last year, it was the prime minister, Stephen Harper, who was musing about an election as the long weekend approached; this year, it is the new Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff’s turn.

Based on their current standings, a majority government is a long shot for both parties. The Liberals are set to gain seats, however, even if they do not gain government. And the Conservatives run some danger of losing power if they are forced into an election this fall.

“As the last Parliament drew to a close, the public withdrew a slight but significant advantage that they had bestowed on the Liberals,” said EKOS President Frank Graves. “Irritated by the threat of another election, with little prospect of a qualitatively different parliamentary result, the public gave the Conservatives a slight but significant lead. This small lead persisted through most of the summer. Over the past few weeks the Liberals have drawn into a virtual dead heat, however. Notably the Liberals have also re-established an advantage in the crucial Ontario arena.”

“So as media interest begins to percolate, and the public inevitably and perhaps reluctantly return their attention again to politics, it appears that the race would now be handicapped as “pick ’em” between the 2 main contenders.”

Click here for complete survey results: 0779-full-report-_september-3_

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