Conservatives stalled ahead of budget: poll

Tue Mar 2, 2010 2:29pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives, set to unveil a tough budget this week, are tied in public support with the main opposition Liberal Party, according to a large poll released on Tuesday.

The regular Harris-Decima survey for Canadian Press put both parties on 31 percent, well below the 37 percent they would need to create a stable minority government. The left-leaning New Democrats were on 16 percent.

The survey results were similar to those of most polls done over the last six weeks.

"It appears that the so-called 'new normal' in Canadian politics is a statistical tie between the two main parties," said pollster Allan Gregg.

Ipsos-Reid, citing a post Olympic Games glow, had earlier issued a smaller poll for CanWest which put the Conservatives at 37 percent popular support and the Liberals on 29 percent. The New Democrats were on 16 percent.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who won a strengthened minority government in the October 2008 election, says he wants to focus on the economic recovery and insists neither he or Canadians are interested in another election now.

The government will outline its plans for the new session of Parliament on Wednesday at around 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) and then unveil its budget at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Ottawa forecasts a record C$56 billion ($54.4 billion) deficit this fiscal year and is promising to return to the black within the next five years. Harper said on Monday preparations for Thursday's budget had been tough.   Continued...