Dion dismisses gloomy poll

Tue Sep 2, 2008 3:03pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The leader of Canada's main opposition Liberal Party dismissed a poll on Tuesday that showed he was headed for defeat in an election expected for next month, saying he was determined to win.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservatives won a minority government in January 2006, is expected to request the dissolution of Parliament this week and call an election for October 14.

A Strategic Counsel poll for Tuesday's Globe and Mail newspaper showed the Conservatives had the backing of 37 percent of voters, close to the 40 percent threshold that experts say gives them a strong chance of winning a majority.

"Polls are like surveys. They come and they go. What remains is our determination to win this election for Canadians," Liberal leader Stephane Dion told reporters in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Strategic Counsel put the Liberals at 29 percent and the left-leaning New Democrats at 17. The environmentalist Greens polled 9 percent. Recent surveys by other polling companies showed the two top parties were tied.

The Liberals paint Harper as an extremist who follows the lead of U.S. President George W. Bush and who would drag Canada far to the right if he won a majority.

Senior Conservative politician Jason Kenney sought to minimize the idea that Harper could win a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, pointing to the number of parties contesting the election.

"It's just about impossible in the present context for any party to form a majority government," he told reporters.   Continued...

<p>Liberal leader Stephane Dion speaks to journalists after meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper at 24 Sussex Drive, Harper's official residence, in Ottawa September 1, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>