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[Ottawa – January 28, 2010] – Canadians are giving the federal government strong support for its efforts in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti earlier this month. However, this is not giving the ruling party the lift it might have expected in the race with the opposition parties.

Two-thirds of Canadians say the speed of the government’s actions is just right. Just over half say the scale of resources devoted to relief and reconstruction is just right. And while many Tory supporters don’t like the government’s decision to loosen immigration rules to allow more Haitians into the country, a plurality of Canadians supports the move.

“Clearly there is both broad sympathy with the human devastation and a strong sense that the Canadian government’s response has been both swift and generous,” said EKOS President Frank Graves. “Moreover, by a strong margin, Canadians prefer that Canada’s main effort in Haiti be long-term reconstruction rather than short-term humanitarian aid. Harper was obviously hitting the target when he hosted an international donors conference in Montreal earlier this week.”

This poll was conducted by EKOS Research Associates as part of a series for exclusive release by CBC News.

The patterns of support for the government’s actions are strikingly consistent across the regions of the country, though there are variations according to party preference. While the supporters of all the parties endorse the speed and scale of government’s response, Tory supporters are more likely to say it was “just right”. Supporters of the opposition parties are somewhat more likely to favour a faster and larger response, though this is a minority.

The most striking partisan differences are on the issue of loosening immigration rules to favour Haitians. While a plurality of Canadians favour this decision, it is not going down so well among Tory supporters, 52% of whom disagree with the policy, while just 41% agree.

Despite the general success of the government’s response to the Haiti earthquake, the dominant news story of the last two weeks, this has not reversed the Conservatives’ decline in public opinion, which began in mid-October, but has accelerated since mid-December. EKOS released a poll through the CBC earlier Thursday that showed the Liberals now nominally ahead of the Conservatives – sometimes termed a statistical tie.

“What is clear is that there is a strong sense that the government has done well in the initial stages of the Haiti crisis,” said Graves. “What is equally clear is that this adroit performance has had no positive impact on what has been a very substantial decline in Conservative fortunes over the past few months.”

Click here for the full report: full_report_january_28

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