December 5, 2008 / 1:02 PM / 10 years ago

Canada's Harper has crushing poll lead on crisis

OTTAWA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Harper has mounted a crushing polling lead as the result of a political crisis in which an opposition coalition sought to take power, a new survey showed on Friday.

If an election were held now, Harper’s Conservatives would take a whopping 46 percent of the vote, more than enough to transform his minority in Parliament into a strong majority. In the Oct. 14 election they received 37.6 percent of the vote.

The main opposition Liberals, the leftist New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, which wants to take Quebec out of Canada, signed a deal on Monday to try to replace Harper with a Liberal-NDP coalition supported by the Bloc.

They were upset with Harper’s attempt, since withdrawn, to cut off direct subsidies of political parties and they also said he was not doing enough to boost the economy. During the election campaign, they had ruled out forming coalitions.

Harper mounted an attack on what he called a coalition driven by separatists and socialists, and public opinion swung his way.

Liberal support dropped to 23 percent from the 26.2 percent they won in the election and the New Democrats saw their backing fall to 13 percent from 18.2 percent.

An Ekos poll released the night before showed a lead of a similar magnitude, of 20 points, for the Conservatives.

Fifty-six percent of those polled by Ipsos Reid said they would rather go to another election, even though one was just held, rather than let the coalition govern.

Harper won seven weeks of breathing space on Thursday with the suspension of Parliament until late January, when he can present a budget with economic stimulus.

The coalition could try to bring him down then, though some Liberals are saying they should think hard before doing that.

Ipsos sampled 1,001 people, a sample which should carry a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20. (Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Doina Chiacu)

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