Minority, coalition are options in Ontario vote

Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:21pm EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Polls point to a minority government in Canada's economic powerhouse of Ontario after provincial elections next week, amid disillusionment with the ruling Liberals and disappointment with their main rivals.

A landmark poll of 40,000 voters released over the weekend showed a tie between the Liberal and Progressive Conservative front-runners, with 35 percent voter support apiece.

But those figures, from an automated telephone poll, mean neither would get enough seats for a majority. Voting intentions were split -- urban voters favored the Liberals and rural voters backed the Conservatives.

"It could not have been any closer than that poll; they're not just statistically tied but pretty much exactly tied," said Lorne Bozinoff, president of pollster Forum Research.

The Liberals have ruled Ontario since 2003, steering the export-dependent province through a global recession that clobbered its manufacturing sector, while spending heavily on healthcare and education, and raising taxes.

The Conservatives promise to cut spending with the exception of health and education. They would scrap the Liberals' C$7 billion ($6.8 billion) green energy deal with South Korea's Samsung and stop paying big premiums for clean energy, which has driven up electricity bills.

Both parties intend to eliminate the province's C$16 billion deficit by 2017-18, without raising taxes.

Analysts say there are many possible outcomes to the vote. Some don't rule out an upset majority for the Conservatives, whose supporters are presumed "stickier" than rival parties' voters.   Continued...

<p>Ontario Premier and Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty (L), provincial NDP leader Andrea Horvath (C) and provincial Conservative leader Tim Hudak participate in the provincial Ontario leaders debate in Toronto September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>