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Conservative lead widens as Liberals slip in new poll

Conservative lead widens as Liberals slip in new poll
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OTTAWA—A new poll suggests Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives continue to have the most support among decided and leaning voters, while a majority of respondents to the survey said they disapprove of Justin Trudeau’s performance as prime minister.

Forty-two per cent of decided and leaning voters said they support the Conservative Party, according to . That compares with 29 per cent who intend to vote for the governing Liberals, and 12 per cent who support the New Democratic Party.

A new poll from Forum Research says the Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer, right, continue to enjoy a lead in support over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.  (Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press file photos)

Nine per cent said they would vote Green, the poll found, while 6 per cent support the Bloc Québécois and 2 per cent would vote for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party.

The poll involved a random sampling of 1,634 Canadian adults who responded to an interactive phone survey from April 3 to 6. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff said this poll gives the Conservatives a wider lead than one in March — Forum polls have put the Tories in the lead since September 2017 — but that’s mainly because the Liberal number dropped from 33 to 29 per cent.

At the same time, 60 per cent of respondents to the latest poll said they disapprove of Trudeau’s job performance as prime minister, while more than half — 57 per cent — said Canada is either “much worse” or “a bit worse” than in 2015, when the Liberal government came to power.

Bozinoff suggested the Liberals have “taken their licks” over the SNC-Lavalin controversy that has occupied much of the federal political conversation over the past two months. Scheer has called on Trudeau to resign in the face of allegations that he and his staff inappropriately pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule prosecutors and settle a criminal case against the Montreal-based corporation, which is accused of bribing officials in Libya when the dictator Moammar Gadhafi was in power.

Jane Philpott, a prominent Liberal cabinet minister, resigned as Treasury Board president over “serious concerns” about alleged interference in the judicial system, and has said she lost confidence in how the government handled the situation. Philpott and Wilson-Raybould have since been ejected from the Liberal caucus and now sit as independent MPs who won’t be allowed to run again for Trudeau’s party.

But Bonzioff said his poll suggests the Liberals can’t be counted out, because they still have the support from most respondents in Quebec and the second-most from respondents in Ontario — key battleground provinces in the coming federal election.

“This scandal, it might have reinforced some people’s perceptions, but they aren’t going to vote Liberals anyway,” he said, pointing to the high levels of Conservatives from survey respondents in the Prairie provinces, where the Tories already hold the vast majority of seats.

“It sure isn’t over.”

Bozinoff also noted an uptick in Green Party support, which this latest poll put at 9 per cent versus 6 per cent in the mid-March survey. The poll found that 28 per cent said the economy is the most important topic for the coming election, followed by 21 per cent who said it’s the environment. Respondents who said they intend to vote Liberal, NDP or Green were more likely to place the environment as the top issue, the poll found.

Bozinoff said this could indicate some voters disaffected with the Liberals are unwilling to turn to the Conservatives as an alternative if they think the environment will be a big, ballot box issue.

“I think we’re starting to see the foreshadowing of the election and what’s going to happen,” he said.
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