Poll shows hopeful signs for Harper

Sun Sep 7, 2008 6:42pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - A majority of Canadians aren't especially worried about the economy and support the Conservative government's approach to climate change, according to a poll released on Sunday, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper triggered an October 14 general election.

About 52 percent of respondents said they were not too worried or not worried at all about the economy, even though growth has stagnated and job creation has sputtered in Canada amid a global slowdown.

Some 48 percent said they were worried or very worried about the economy, according to the survey, conducted by Environics for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

While the poll suggests that the economy may not emerge as a big negative for the Conservatives, it also shows clear support for the governing party on the issue of global warming. Some 68 percent said they agreed with the government's approach to climate change and only 26 percent disagreed with it.

By contrast, only 42 percent agreed with the Liberal approach, while 51 percent disagreed with the main opposition party on an issue that its leader, Stephane Dion, has made a central plank of the campaign.

On Sunday, Harper asked Canada's governor-general to dissolve Parliament, triggering an election that he hopes will strengthen his grip on power after 2-1/2 years in charge of a minority government. Governor-General Michaelle Jean is the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state.

Dion has proposed a "Green Shift" plan that would raise taxes on fossil fuels to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The new tax would be revenue neutral, the Liberals say, offset by cuts to personal and corporate income taxes and increased spending on social programs.

Harper has said a carbon tax would hurt Canadians at a time of sky-high energy prices and economic slowing, and he chided Dion on Wednesday for making adjustments in the plan.

The survey asked respondents who they thought would win a federal election, regardless of which party they backed. A 55 percent majority said the Conservatives, while only 24 percent thought the Liberals would prevail.   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper pauses following a campaign rally in Quebec City September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>