September 2, 2008 / 11:13 AM / 11 years ago

Canada Conservatives strong ahead of election call

TORONTO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Canada’s ruling Conservatives are within reach of gaining the support they need to win a majority government as Canada gears up for an October election, according to an opinion poll released on Tuesday.

The Strategic Counsel survey, in the Globe and Mail newspaper, showed the Conservatives with support of 37 percent of voters, just below the 40 percent threshold that pollsters say gives a strong chance of winning a majority government.

That’s well above the 29 percent support the survey showed for the opposition Liberals, and the 17 percent polled by the left-wing New Democrats. The environmentalist Greens polled 9 percent.

The Conservatives won power in January 2006. But they have only a minority of seats in Parliament, and the Liberals have kept them in power in recent months by abstaining on key legislation.

But that informal cooperation is over, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper now says he thinks an election is the only way to fix what he sees as a dysfunctional Parliament. If he calls an election this week, as expected, Canadians would vote on Oct. 14.

“With these numbers, a majority is within the reach of the Conservatives, but not yet in their grasp,” pollster Peter Donolo told the Globe.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion has made the environment the main plank of his platform, and the poll showed that 15 percent of voters agreed that the environment was the most important issue at this election, and 20 percent thought the Liberals were the best party to deal with the issue.

But 20 percent viewed Canada’s slowing domestic economy as the most important issue, and 38 percent thought the Conservatives were the best party to deal with it.

Strategic Counsel polled 1,000 Canadian voters for its survey. It says the results are accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 95 percent of the time. (Reporting by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Scott Anderson)

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