Final poll shows stronger Tory minority

Tue Oct 14, 2008 8:16am EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The final poll on the eve of Tuesday's general election in Canada projected a strengthened Conservative minority government and a weakened official opposition Liberal Party.

The Ekos poll issued Monday night projected that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives would advance to approximately 136 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

This would be a net gain of nine seats but would still fall short of the 155 Harper needs for majority, in which he would not have to rely on other parties to get his budgets and legislation through Parliament.

Harper was elected with a minority for the first time in January 2006 and managed, by some calculations, to have the longest minority government in Canadian history.

Under the Ekos projection the Liberals, who had a hard time winning public support for a carbon tax at a time of high energy prices, would lose 11 seats and end up with 84.

The Bloc Quebecois, which advocates independence for the majority French-speaking province of Quebec but has not pushed that in this campaign, would rise five seats to 51.

The leftist New Democratic Party would gain between five and 35 seats, and two seats would be independent.

Harper called the election on September 7 to seek a renewed mandate to govern. He predicted it would produce another minority but said that once re-elected the opposition parties would be reluctant to block his agenda, at least to start with.

Ekos's automated telephone rolling poll covered the three days through Monday. In popular support, it had the Conservatives out front with 34.8 percent compared with 26.4 percent for the Liberals, 19.4 percent for the New Democrats, 9.8 percent for the Bloc and 9.6 percent for the Green Party.   Continued...

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a rally in West Vancouver, British Columbia October 13, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election October 14. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>