Canada Liberals hold edge on ruling Tories in poll

Sat May 2, 2009 2:05pm EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's opposition Liberals maintained their narrow lead over the ruling Conservatives in an opinion poll released on Saturday, though Prime Minister Stephen Harper is still seen as the best leader for the country.

The Liberals were the first choice of 36 percent of decided voters in the survey conducted this week by Nanos Research.

That is unchanged from the firm's previous poll conducted in March. Support for the Conservatives, at 33 percent, also was unchanged.

The poll comes on the day that Liberal delegates at the party's national convention in Vancouver are all but certain to elect Michael Ignatieff as their permanent leader.

Last year senior Liberals chose Ignatieff to replace Stephane Dion, who led the party to a stinging defeat in the last federal election on October 14.

After taking the reins, Ignatieff ended a proposed partnership with two smaller parties and allowed the minority Conservative government to survive a parliamentary crisis while he worked to rebuild support for the Liberals.

The latest findings are in line with an Ipsos Reid survey, published on Friday, that gave the Liberals a lead of 36 percent to 33 percent over the ruling party.

Even though the Liberals have more support than the Tories, Harper is perceived as a better leader than his Liberal rival. Some 32 percent in the Nanos poll think Harper would make the best prime minister, compared with 27 percent for Ignatieff.

The poll suggests that Ignatieff's ranking may have suffered because of his recent statement that taxes might have to increase to pay for the massive deficits being rung up by Ottawa to stimulate the economy out of recession.

The survey of 1,001 Canadians was taken April 25-30 and had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

(Reporting by Frank McGurty; Editing by Xavier Briand)

 
<p>Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff wears an NHL Vancouver Canuck's jersey presented to him while attending a young liberals meeting at the Federal Liberal Party Biennial Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia May 1, 2009. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>