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Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives a thumbs-up before a Conservative caucus meeting in Ottawa on Dec. 1, 2010. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives a thumbs-up before a Conservative caucus meeting in Ottawa on Dec. 1, 2010. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

Life under Harper brutish to some, blissful to others Add to ...

Michael Ignatieff asked the question last week and Angus Reid pollsters answered it, discovering that 30 per cent of Canadians say they are better off now than they were five years ago. That compares to 38 per cent who don't see much improvement since Stephen Harper formed government in 2006.

The new online Vision Critical/Angus Reid poll also found that 29 per cent of respondents feel about the same as they did five years ago.

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Last week the Liberal Leader framed the question he would like to see voters consider at the ballot box in the next election: Are you better off today than you were five years ago? Sunday is the fifth anniversary of the election that brought Mr. Harper to power.

Jaideep Mukerji, the polling company's vice-president, says the survey shows that the economic crisis, which has been Mr. Harper's biggest challenge, is having an impact on the Canadian psyche.

"Nearly 40 per cent of Canadians think they are worse off now than they were before," he says. "It's not a particularly upbeat mood but it's important to keep in mind that other polls we've done have shown that for the most part Canadians don't blame Harper for the crisis."

Mr. Mukerji notes that Mr. Harper "still has an edge on who is best suited to handle the economy."

His online poll shows, too, that 43 per cent of respondents think that Mr. Harper has performed about the same as they had expected over the past five years. This compares to 12 per cent who say he has performed better than expected and 34 per cent who say his performance has been worse than expected.

Meanwhile, Canadians are not that worried about their safety: 58 per cent say the level of safety in their community is either good or excellent compared to 9 per cent who say it's poor or awful. Perhaps, the Harper government's law and order policies are making Canadians feel more secure?

Asked about Canada on the world stage - remember the gaffes of late, including the loss of a UN Security Council seat and the bitter feud with the United Arab Emirates - 38 per cent of respondents see Canada performing well compared to 21 per cent who consider the performance poor or awful.

Interesting to note, Mr. Mukerji says, is the partisan divide on the performance issue: "Tory voters, by a pretty wide margin, see our role as having improved under Harper. Opposition supporters on the other hand are emphatic in saying they see it as having worsened."

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