March 30, 2009 / 3:51 PM / in 9 years

Liberals take slight lead: poll

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s opposition Liberals have gained a slight lead in popular support over the ruling Conservatives amid increasing unhappiness over how the government is tackling the economic crisis, according to a poll published on Monday,.

<p>Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff speaks to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon in Edmonton February 27, 2009. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber</p>

The Leger Marketing poll for the French-language Le Devoir newspaper put the Liberals, led by Michael Ignatieff, at 35 percent popular support, compared with 34 percent for the Conservatives, who won a strengthened minority in the general election held last October.

The Liberals have continually attacked Prime Minister Stephen Harper for not doing enough to tackle the economic crisis. The survey showed that 41 percent of Canadians said Ignatieff had the best ideas for fixing the economy, compared with just 32 percent for Harper.

“There is no good news at all in this poll for the Conservatives. A government always has difficulties during an economic crisis and this is confirmed (by the survey),” Leger pollster Jean-Marc Leger told Le Devoir.

Most polls since the election have put the Conservatives ahead, although the gap has narrowed since Ignatieff took over from previous leader Stephane Dion in December.

Almost half of those polled by Leger -- 48 percent -- said they were unhappy or very unhappy with what Harper had done so far to mitigate the effects of the recession. Only 40 percent said they were happy or very happy.

The Leger poll of 1,508 adults was carried out between March 18 and 23 and is considered accurate to within 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway

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