March 2, 2010 / 7:34 PM / in 8 years

Conservatives stalled ahead of budget: poll

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.

If all the opposition parties vote against the budget the government will fall, and there will be another election. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff says he will read the budget before deciding whether to vote in favor.

Harper cannot get key legislation through Parliament without the support of at least one opposition party.

He lost a big polling lead after he had Parliament suspended until March 3 on the grounds he needed to recalibrate his agenda. Opponents accused him of authoritarianism.

“We want to have a political system ... in which the prime minister has the authority to do his job but he doesn’t have the power to ride roughshod over Parliament and the will of the people,” Ignatieff told reporters.

The Harris-Decima poll of 2,035 people was conducted between Feb 18 to 28 and is considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Ipsos-Reid poll of 1,000 adult Canadians was carried out Feb 18 to 22 and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson

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