Conservatives keep strong lead in polls

Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:23pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's governing Conservatives are maintaining a strong lead in public support following an ill-fated attempt by the opposition Liberals to force an early election, an Ekos poll issued on Thursday said.

"This is not a blip," Ekos President Frank Graves said in a statement, noting that it was the fourth straight week in which the Conservatives are showing a double-digit lead.

"The Tories streaked into their current lead when the Liberals started threatening an early election in (September)," Graves said. "However, they are now standing up despite negative news reports about the distribution of stimulus money and the confusion around the H1N1 vaccination program."

The Conservative lead widened slightly to 11.6 points from 11.2 points in an Ekos poll a week earlier. But it was down from the 15.2 point edge they had two weeks ago.

Graves said the data did not mean the Conservatives could not be knocked off their pedestal. "However, it does mean the other parties have their work cut out for them."

For most of the summer the Liberals had been roughly tied with the Conservatives but then fell sharply behind when Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff decided to try to bring the minority Conservative government down, just as an economic recovery was starting.

On Tuesday, Ignatieff dismissed his friend Ian Davey as chief of staff after just two months in that post. He did not give a reason, but Davey was an election hawk.

He has replaced Davey with affable Liberal communications guru Peter Donolo, who helped the Liberals under Jean Chretien win a majority government in 1993 and get re-elected in 1997.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 22, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>