Support for Tories down across most of country: poll
A Canadian flag flies under the Peace Tower on Wednesday, March 3, 2010. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA - A pox on both your houses is the message Canadians are sending to both the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Liberals, a new poll suggests.
The Tories' national lead over the Liberals slipped to five points from eight, a new Canadian Press Harris Decima survey found.
The Conservatives stand at 31 per cent, the Liberals 26 per cent, the NDP 18 per cent, the Greens 12 per cent and the BQ 10 per cent.
The biggest drop for the Tories was in the vote-rich province of Ontario, where they've lost a seven-point lead to tie with the Liberals at 34 per cent.
But both parties have lost ground to the NDP in British Columbia, while all three are far behind the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec.
The pollsters surveyed 2,030 people between July 15 and 25, as criticism over the Conservatives' move on the census hit its zenith with the resignation of Canada's top statistician.
Harris Decima said the results are accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
In the two weeks before the latest poll, support for the Tories was at 35 per cent, while the Liberals were at 27 per cent.
It's hard to attribute the drop to the census controversy because the issue is not engaging most Canadians, said Allan Gregg, chairman of Harris Decima.
But the decline in B.C. and Quebec suggests any talk of a fall election is moot.
"That's a prescription for even a reduced minority compared to the one they have right now, so I would think if this holds over the next little while the prospect of a fall election would virtually disappear," Gregg said.
The Liberals currently have their leader, Michael Ignatieff, on a bus tour to get to know Canadians but it's not driving poll numbers, said Gregg.
"I think what you're kind of seeing is that given the extent that the Liberals aren't uniformly being advantaged by what is a slippage on the party of the Conservatives, you have voters basically saying a pox on both your houses," he said.
Another noticeable feature of the survey is that female voters appear to again be moving away from the Tories.
The gender gap had more of less disappeared over the course of the last two months, said Gregg.
"One of the reasons right of centre parties suffer from a gender gap is that right of centre parties are seen as risky, that is, that they are seen as more extremist, more likely to do something that is destabilizing or unseemly.
"Does the census fit into that? A little bit."