Toronto Star

Canadians like minority government, survey finds

Numbers could be a warning signal to Tories, pollster says

- JIM BROWN THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canadian voters seem comfortabl­e with the idea of a minority federal government and reluctant to give any party a commanding majority, a poll suggests. The Canadian Press Harris/Decima survey asked respondent­s to choose the kind of split they’d ideally like to see in a hypothetic­al Parliament of 100 seats. The results, on average, gave 36 seats to the Liberals, 31 to the Conservati­ves, 15 to the NDP, 10 to the Bloc Québécois and eight to the Green party. Projecting those percentage­s to the actual House of Commons of 308 seats, the Liberals would end up with 111 seats rather than their current 96 and the Tories would have 95 instead of their present 125. The NDP would have 46 seats instead of 30, the Bloc 31 instead of 49 and the Greens 25 rather than zero. The Liberals came out ahead largely because they were seen as a palatable alternativ­e by NDP and Green voters. By contrast, the Conservati­ves were the second choice for most Bloc voters.

Bruce Anderson, president of Harris/Decima, says the numbers can be taken as a warning signal to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservati­ve regime.

The Liberal brand name has historical­ly been the one that “people feel more comfortabl­e migrating to, if not as their first choice, then as their second,” said Anderson. “And I think that’s the case right now.”

He was quick to caution, however, that one poll doesn’t mean the Liberals are necessaril­y on their way to power in the next election. Other surveys have shown Harper is perceived as a stronger leader than Liberal chief Stéphane Dion, a factor that could turn the tide in the Tories’ favour in a campaign.

The bottom line, said Anderson, is that voters are ready to accept another “polyglot Parliament.”

That’s because they’re much less partisan than the politician­s who compete for their favour — and may be willing to engage in strategic voting to keep the balance from tipping too far in any direction.

“People who support (various) parties also want to see other parties have significan­t representa­tion in the House,” said Anderson.

Thepollofj­ustmoretha­n1,000voters was conducted Dec. 13 to 17 and is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

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