Perhaps the election polls are beginning to show the same volatility as the stock market. It would not surprise me though if the Conservatives were to get a majority. However, if the trend continues over 40 per cent for the Conservatives there may be a siphoning off of NDP and Green votes to the Liberals in an attempt at staving off that majority. Personally the Liberals are so atrocious that I would recommend voting Green, NDP, or whatever turns your crank rather than save us from a Conservative majority and have the Liberals in the opposition in a Conservative minority. The Liberals are going to be frightened to death and will sit on their hands again anyway. Might as well elect people from other than the two main parties even if it did help elect a majority Conservative government. It is not even sure that it will either. We might still have a minority with a reduced Liberal presence but with more NDP and Bloc members. I doubt that the Greens can elect anyone even though it would be nice if they did.
Poll suggests Harper could be headed for majority
OTTAWA — Stephen Harper may be closing in on his coveted majority despite being plagued by a series of miscues and bad news during the first week of the federal election campaign.
A new poll suggests the Conservatives have opened up a commanding 15-point lead over the Liberals, with 41 per cent of respondents supporting the governing party.
Typically, 40 per cent is sufficient to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons.
According to The Canadian Press-Harris Decima survey, the Liberals stood at 26 per cent, the NDP at 14 per cent, the Greens at nine and the Bloc Quebecois at eight.
The poll suggests the Tories have gained ground among key voter groups that have eluded them in the past, and in every region of the country. They took a seven-point lead in Ontario, a 10-point lead in urban centres and a 13-point-lead among women.
In Quebec, the Bloc remained in the lead but the Conservatives moved up into a competitive second place with the Liberals falling to a distant third.
"The Conservative momentum has been remarkable," said Harris Decima president Bruce Anderson.
All the more remarkable given that Harper was forced off-message repeatedly during the campaign's opening week. He was compelled to apologize for at least two gaffes by his officials and he flip-flopped on his opposition to including Green Leader Elizabeth May in the televised debates.
Moreover, the campaign kicked off amid more deaths of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, plummeting stock markets, soaring gas prices, fresh manufacturing layoffs, and dismal economic forecasts.
Anderson said the poll results suggest Harper's efforts to rebrand himself and his party as moderate have paid off - at least so far.
"They've repositioned the party as a party of the centre or as a party that wants to govern from the centre . . . and they've repositioned Stephen Harper less as a firebrand ideologue and more as a decent, thoughtful, competent everyman."
The Tories' massive advertising campaign - showing a sweater-clad Harper chatting warmly about his kids, his love of the North and his respect for veterans - appears to have reassured wary voters, Anderson said. Harper has followed up the ads by appearing more relaxed and accessible on the hustings.
Anderson said Harper's swift response to gaffes by his campaign officials may have actually helped reinforce his new image.
He's jettisoned the "uber-partisan, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, make-no-apologies" approach in favour of quickly admitting mistakes and apologizing for them, Anderson said.
On Thursday, Harper immediately suspended party communications director Ryan Sparrow over a partisan swipe at a dead soldier's dad.
On Tuesday, Harper apologized for a sophomoric Tory website that showed an animated puffin pooping on Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.
In the past two elections, support for the Tories has dropped every time they appeared within range of a majority. Harper's challenge as he enters the second week will be to reassure voters who might still be spooked by the prospect of a Conservative majority.
If the Liberals can't begin making an impression with voters, Anderson said the NDP could see its support increase as soft-Liberal supporters look for a new home.
Dion was put on the defensive Friday as gas prices soared by 13 cents a litre. He rejected suggestions the spike would make it harder for him to sell his central platform plank - a carbon tax on fossil fuels, offset by cuts to income and business taxes.
Indeed, Dion suggested the overnight price hike actually underscores the need for his Green Shift plan. He argued that oil and gas price increases are unavoidable and that only the Liberals have a plan to help wean Canadians off fossil fuels and make the transition to cleaner alternatives.
"Where is (Harper's) strategy for Canada?" asked the Liberal leader. "What is his strategy to help our families cope with this problem today and tomorrow for our children and grandchildren?"
During a campaign stop Friday in Burnaby, B.C., Dion unveiled almost $600 million in tax breaks aimed at helping Canadians retrofit their homes and businesses to cut pollution and become more energy efficient.
Both Harper and NDP Leader Jack Layton said it appears Canadians are being "gouged" by big oil companies. While Harper offered no immediate action, Layton tried to capitalize on consumer outrage, promising to create a gas price-monitoring agency and to consult with the provinces about regulations.
Layton, campaigning in St. John's, N.L., also vowed to cap credit card interest rates, force all companies to disclose hidden fees and outlaw automated banking machine fees.
"You shouldn't have to pay to access your own money," Layton said.
Harper took his campaign to Halifax on Friday, promising to make it easier for foreign investors in Canada - and hoping for no more blunders by his war room.
The prime minister made six promises aimed at attracting foreign investment, including more than tripling the threshold for foreign investment reviews to $1 billion.
The Tories would increase the allowed level of foreign investment in airlines to 49 per cent from the current 25, and allow foreign companies to own Canadian uranium mines.
Harper also promised to create a new national security test to safeguard against a foreign company, for instance, buying a computer-chip product with military applications.
He said while his party believes in free trade, the government will step in when it feels the national interest is at stake.
The telephone poll, which surveyed 1,406 Monday through Thursday, is considered accurate to within 2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Respondents were asked: "If a federal election were held tomorrow, who do you think you would be voting for in your area."
Copyright © 2008