Ignatieff contrite after gloomy poll

Thu Oct 8, 2009 10:40am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The leader of the Liberal Party on Thursday admitted he had a lot of work to do in the wake of a poll showing his movement would be crushed if an election were held now.

The weekly Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp put the ruling Conservatives at 39.7 percent support, up from 36.0 percent the week before. The Liberals were at 25.7 percent, down from 29.7 percent.

The poll indicates the Conservatives -- who won minority mandates in January 2006 and October 2008 elections -- would capture a majority government if a federal vote were held now.

The two parties were tied in support in early September, when Ignatieff said he would try to bring down the government on the grounds it was mishandling the economic crisis.

Since then a string of polls by different firms show the Conservatives have steadily gained public support while backing for the Liberals fell away.

"I have a lot of work to do -- that's clear ... we've been taking some criticism. If there are things I need to do better I'm certainly going to be ready to try," a subdued Ignatieff told a televised news conference in London, Ontario.

"I'm going to listen to Canadians and improve my performance in any way I can," he said, stressing he would continue to oppose the government's economic record.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper accuses Ignatieff of playing games -- a message that seems to have gained voter backing.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 7, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>