Harper plays down election as support falls

Thu Aug 5, 2010 2:47pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Hodgson

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday the country is in no mood for an election as a new poll showed support for his minority Conservative government is sliding.

The Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp put the governing Conservatives at 29.7 percent popular support, down from 32.2 percent in the previous survey, with signs voters may be unhappy over a plan to change next year's census.

The pollster said it was the first time the Conservatives have fallen below 30 percent since late 2006, when they took power as a minority government, and it puts them in a statistical draw with the Liberals, who rose to 28.5 percent support from 26.4 percent.

The results echo the findings of other recent polls about support for the Conservatives, and came as Harper was meeting with his caucus in Ottawa.

Harper accused members of opposition parties of threatening an election, although Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff also says he is not interested in having one.

The Conservatives require the support of at least one opposition party to remain in power.

"That (an election) is not what Canadians want," Harper said, adding later: "Canadians want us to continue to focus on governing and especially, colleagues, they want us to focus on the economy. That is what we will continue to do."

The Conservatives won a stronger minority mandate in 2008, and because minority governments traditionally last about two years, there has been speculation in the media that another vote could happen this fall.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (L) greets members of the Conservative caucus during a meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa August 5, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>