Liberals gain edge on Conservatives: poll

Wed Apr 8, 2009 12:57pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - A third national poll has given Canada's opposition Liberals a slight lead over the recently reelected Conservatives who are fighting to maintain support during the current recession.

The Strategic Counsel poll, issued on Wednesday by the Globe and Mail newspaper, has the Liberals at 34 percent and the Conservatives at 32 percent. Two polls issued in late March had put the Liberals 1 to 3 points ahead.

"A recession is a bad backdrop for a government in office," the Globe quoted Strategic Counsel partner Peter Donolo, a former Liberal spokesman in the 1990s, as saying.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper led the Conservatives to their second straight minority government in an election in October.

Strategic Counsel had the Conservatives in the lead in March, following a visit to Ottawa by President Barack Obama.

The Conservatives had been far ahead late last year when the Liberals were planning to defeat them and form a coalition government with the help of the leftist New Democrats and the separatist Bloc Quebecois.

The Liberals have since abandoned that coalition idea and have replaced Stephane Dion as their leader with the more popular Michael Ignatieff.

The current poll surveyed 1,000 adults from April 2-5 and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer, editing by Anthony Boadle)