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Tories close in on Grits
Globe and Mail ^ | June 1, 2004 | Drew Fagan

Posted on 06/01/2004 4:09:57 AM PDT by Squawk 8888

The Conservative Party has drawn even with the Liberals in the crucial battleground of Ontario as Paul Martin's campaign nosedives, suggesting that either party could emerge from the June 28 election leading a minority government.

A new Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV shows the Conservatives gaining four percentage points nationally to 30 per cent, placing them just four points behind the Liberal Party. The Liberals' 34-per-cent support is the lowest since Mr. Martin took office in December, and five points less than the party enjoyed as recently as mid-May. The NDP now stands at 16 per cent.

A seat projection prepared by Ipsos-Reid suggests that the combined seats of the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois would be enough for a coalition majority government, but that the combined seats of the Liberal Party and the NDP would not.

Ipsos-Reid president Darrell Bricker noted that the key polling trend is in Ontario, which has just over one-third of all ridings. The Conservatives and the Liberals are tied at 36 per cent — a sharp change from the 22-point lead the Liberals enjoyed mid-month when the party stood at 49 per cent. The only explanation, Mr. Bricker said, is the impact of the unpopular provincial budget of Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty.

"Their [the federal Liberals'] numbers were rock-solid in Ontario before that," he said. "But there is a wildfire right now . . . The Liberals are in the process of crashing."

Both the Conservatives and the Liberals seemed to sense yesterday that the tide was turning. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said he's been seeking advice from a "large number of Conservatives" about how to prepare for a transition of power. Some of his MPs are examining how a Conservative-led minority might operate.

Mr. Harper said he spoke to Brian Mulroney a few days ago, and that the former prime minister senses the Liberals are extremely vulnerable.

"He told me he sees all kinds of similarities between this election and the situation he had in 1984," Mr. Harper said. Then, Mr. Mulroney won a record 211 seats, leaving the Liberals with just 40.


STORIES Tide turing Harper's way Liberal woes fuel Tory-Bloc theories Flashback archives Globe reporters unwired

OPINION/EDITORIAL Ibbitson: Are Canadians ready for Harper's vision of Canada? Editorial: You must be thinking of some other Liberal PRESS RELEASES • Bloc • Conservatives • Liberals • NDP

QUOTABLE "...There is a wildfire right now ... The Liberals are in the process of crashing," Ipsos-Reid president Darrell Bricker on Liberal chances in Ontario in wake of provincial budget.

SCHEDULE Today -LAYTON in New Westminster, B.C, Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby -MARTIN in Vancouver -HARPER in Whitby, Ont., Ajax, Markham, Toronto -DUCEPPE in Mont St-Hilaire, Longueuil -THE FULL CALENDAR ON THE TRAIL features • Platforms • Poll tracker • Party standings • History • Toolkit • Profiles • Sights and sounds

LINKS • Elections Canada • Web picks PARTIES • Liberals • Conservatives • NDP • Bloc POLLS • Ipsos-Reid • Ekos • Environics • SES YOUR RIDING Search by riding Meanwhile, Mr. Martin shrugged off queries about whether he could lose office, and turned up the volume on his attacks on Mr. Harper. The Conservative Leader, he charged, is making fairytale promises in areas like defence that would push Ottawa into the red.

"Two and two don't make three or five," he said, insisting that the Liberals were in a "tough fight" but would emerge victorious. "As far as I am concerned, we are going to form a majority government."

The seat projection based on the new polling says that the Liberals would win 122 to 126 seats, with the Conservatives at 107 to 111 and the NDP winning 15 to 19. The Bloc Québécois would hold the balance of power in Parliament with 56 to 60 seats. A party or coalition would require at least 155 seats to govern.

The dead heat in Ontario in terms of popular support, according to the projection, would leave the Liberals with 55 to 59 seats in the province, and give the Conservatives 40 to 44. (The NDP would win the remaining seven or so seats based on their support from one in five Ontarians.)

In the past three elections, the Liberals have dominated the province.

But, according to Ipsos-Reid, the Conservatives' 36-per-cent support would translate into a thick and elongated "blue belt," running through Eastern and Central Ontario, the suburbs around Toronto and into Western Ontario. Some Toronto ridings would also fall to the Conservatives.

The Liberals are facing a "perfect storm" in the province, Mr. Bricker suggested. The McGuinty budget — by raising taxes after the Premier promised not to — seems to have combined with prolonged concerns about the federal sponsorship scandal to pummel the credibility of the Liberal Party.

"It is guilt by association, but it arises in combination with the sponsorship issue."

The federal Liberals' troubles in Ontario became evident almost as soon as the provincial government released its budget on May 18. On the eve of the May 23 election call, federal Liberal support nationwide suddenly declined to 35 per cent, and to 42 per cent in Ontario (a seven point drop from mid-month).

The worst may still be to come. A full two-thirds of those questioned in the latest poll believe it is time for a change of government. Only 29 per cent think the Liberals deserve to be re-elected.

This suggests, Mr. Bricker said, that some of the 34 per cent of voters who support the Liberal Party might turn against them.

The momentum is certainly not with the governing party. Only 11 per cent of voters say their opinion of the Liberals and Mr. Martin has improved in recent weeks, compared with 47 per cent who say it has worsened. This score of "negative 36" compares to "plus 18" for the Conservatives and Mr. Harper, and "plus 15" for the NDP and Leader Jack Layton. The score in Quebec for the Bloc Québécois and Leader Gilles Duceppe is "plus 17."

Perhaps the only potentially good news for the Liberals is timing. The downturn occurred in the first week of a five-week campaign, leaving time to turn things around. The Conservatives now will be subjected to close scrutiny, Mr. Bricker noted. But, he added, many voters appear to have decided not to vote Liberal, including some traditional Liberals switching to the Conservatives. It will be tough to get them to switch back.

The new poll shows the Bloc holding a strong lead in Quebec. Its support is down six points from the election-eve poll to 44 per cent, but that is still 15 points ahead of the Liberals.

In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals dominate with 44 per cent — down six points from the election-eve poll — but still well ahead of the Conservatives and NDP both at 24 per cent.

The Liberals have picked up four points in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and lead the Conservatives by six points with 36 per cent support. The Conservatives are down 10 points. The NDP now has the support of one in four voters.

In Alberta, the Conservatives have 49 per cent (down five points) and lead the Liberals by 22 points, with the NDP winning 14 per cent support.

In British Columbia, the NDP has dropped six points to 14 per cent. The Conservatives have 39 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 34 per cent.

The Ipsos-Reid poll of 1,000 people was taken from last Friday through Sunday, and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

TOPICS: Canada; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: canada; paulmartin; stephenharper

1 posted on 06/01/2004 4:09:57 AM PDT by Squawk 8888
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To: Squawk 8888

There's still hope for our sisters to the North!

2 posted on 06/01/2004 4:17:39 AM PDT by AntiGuv (When the countdown hits zero - something's gonna happen..)
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To: Squawk 8888

A Conservative/Quebec government, huh? Sounds like the conservatives get their policies for the rest of Canada, and Quebec gets to do what it wants. Live and let Live. Right on then, Today S. Dakota, tomorrow Canada, November America! Get ready for the 2nd Conservative Revolution. (I can dream, right?)

3 posted on 06/01/2004 4:24:34 AM PDT by Dimez Apart (California: We have more Republicans here then some states have people.)
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To: Squawk 8888
There's energy in the air.

I went to an open house at our candidate's (Steve Strauss) office last Saturday. The local media was there, the crowd enthusiastic. Steve gave us a pep talk. He mentioned that while canvassing he had gone up to two houses with Fiberal signs. After talking to one of the householders they replaced their lawn sign with a large CPC sign. At the other house the wife admitted the Fiberal sign was her husbands idea but unbeknownst to him she planned on voting Conservative.

There are strong indications that we can take this South-Western Ontario riding. YeeHaw!!!

4 posted on 06/01/2004 4:40:16 AM PDT by kanawa (My shoes keep walking back to you)
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To: kanawa

Great news from Ontario.

They elected a hardline conservative government in 1995, so the Liberals don't own the province by any means.

I love how the liberal Toronto Star is already fretting about the possibility of a Conservative/Separatiste alliance to form a majority government.

5 posted on 06/01/2004 4:50:22 AM PDT by SB00
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To: Squawk 8888

It could end up even worse for the Liberals. I don't recall anyone projecting the PCs to fall from running the government to having all of TWO seats years ago. Canadians may pride themselves on being different from Americans, but the American attitude of "throw the bums out" has been shown in the past to be adopted in the Great White North as well.

At least they get the colors right in Canada - "Blue belt" - Conservatives are blue, liberals red.

6 posted on 06/01/2004 5:49:49 AM PDT by You Dirty Rats (WE WILL WIN WITH W - Isara)
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To: Squawk 8888

Good news from Canada...let's hope they put prople from the old Canadian Alliance party rather than "Red Tories faction" of the old Progressive Conservative Party into important posts like education, foreign affairs, finance, culture, economy , attorney-general, etc if they become government after June.

7 posted on 06/01/2004 6:45:57 AM PDT by NZerFromHK
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To: NZerFromHK
Be careful what you wish for...

Last time we visited friends in BC we saw a report on TV where Stockwell Day (sp?) of the Alliance appeared in a wetsuit on a seadoo, yelling "We're coming". Then he said that man and dinosaurs once walked the earth together.

Sorry, Neighbours To The North, no offense intended! He might be a good guy after all and they just made him look dorky in that report. I think it was CBC.
8 posted on 06/01/2004 11:35:04 PM PDT by drtom
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