* Most polls show Liberals, Conservatives extremely close
* Ruling Liberals would have first shot at governing
(Adds results of Ipsos Reid poll)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, Oct 4 Most of the late opinion polls
before Ontario's election on Thursday point to a minority
government in Canada's economic capital, and either of the two
big parties could end up in power.
A party needs at least 54 seats to win a majority in the
provincial Legislature, and two of three polls published on
Tuesday offered slim chance of that.
A survey of 23,000 people from Forum Research predicted 45
seats apiece for the ruling Liberals and the Progressive
Conservatives, their main rivals. A smaller poll by Nanos
Research gave a slight edge to the Liberals, who have been in
power since 2003.
A third poll of 1,020 adults conducted by Ipsos Reid
suggested the Liberals were headed back into government with an
assured minority and potential for a third consecutive
By convention, the Liberals can try to form a government,
even if they win fewer seats than the Conservatives. But they
would need tacit support from at least one opposition party.
If they get far fewer seats than the Conservatives, they
might not even try to stay in power.
"The government of the day has a shot at getting the
confidence of the house ... except if the results are obvious,"
said Nelson Wiseman, a politics professor at the University of
A minority government would be Ontario's first since the
mid-1980s and could allow the left-leaning New Democrats, who
currently sit in third place, to play kingmaker.
Conservative leader Tim Hudak and Liberal Premier Dalton
McGuinty have dismissed the idea of a pact or coalition with
the NDP, which wants to hike corporate taxes, regulate gas
prices and freeze tuition fees.
The Liberals steered the export-reliant province through a
recession that hammered manufacturers, while helping to bail
out the auto sector, spending heavily on healthcare and
education, and raising taxes.
The Conservatives promise to lower some taxes and scrap the
Liberals' C$7 billion ($6.6 billion) green energy deal with
South Korea's Samsung 000830.KS. They would also stop paying
big premiums for clean energy, which has inflated electricity
Both the big parties intend to eliminate the province's
C$16 billion deficit by 2017-18, although analysts question
their ability to do so without raising taxes.
(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Peter