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Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Feb. 29, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Feb. 29, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Tory support steady despite robo-call, e-snooping uproars: poll Add to ...

A month of controversy over pensions, privacy and Pierre Poutine has failed to dent support for the Conservative Party, according to a new poll by Nanos Research.

Support for the Tories remained exactly the same – at 35.7 per cent – compared to a month earlier.

Support for the Liberals climbed slightly to 29.5 per cent from 27.6 per cent, while the NDP’s numbers were essentially unchanged at 25 per cent.

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The survey found jobs and the economy now dominate as the top issue of concern for Canadians, which pollster Nik Nanos said may explain why voters are largely unmoved by the daily furor in the House of Commons.

“Regardless of the noise related to the robo-call affair, there hasn’t been any material impact on Conservative support,” Mr. Nanos told The Globe. “The only way this can change is if there’s something associated with the Prime Minister or senior advisers to the Prime Minister, or the Conservative campaign.”

Nanos Research conducted a telephone survey of 1,203 Canadians for The Globe and Mail and CTV between Feb. 25 and Feb. 29. The results are compared to a Nanos Research survey of 1,201 Canadians conducted Jan. 20 to Jan. 23.

The political focus on allegations of vote suppression during the 2011 election was triggered by a Feb. 25 Ottawa Citizen report detailing Elections Canada’s investigation into some of the allegations. Later in the week it emerged through court documents that Elections Canada is looking to find out who ordered misleading robo-calls with a throwaway cell phone under the name Pierre Poutine of Separatist Street in Joliette Que.

The Nanos survey was also conducted shortly after Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae apologized for the fact that a Liberal staffer was behind an anonymous Twitter account called Vikileaks30 that posted personal information about Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. The account claimed to be set up to protest against Bill C-30, which would expand police surveillance powers over the Internet.

Mr. Nanos said the Vikileaks story likely reinforced the cynicism among voters that no party is above dirty tricks.

“I think for many average Canadians who are very cynical, they find it hard to believe that politics of any colour is ethical,” he said. “The unfortunate timing of the Vikileaks thing for the Liberals basically illustrated the point that, you know what, there are rogue elements in parties that do things that are inappropriate and unsavory. The thing is that on the robo-call affair, and when we look at politics, I’m not sure that there’s any moral high ground that any of the parties can claim.”

After jobs and the economy – which was listed as the most important national issue of concern by 25.8 per cent of respondents – health care was second at 15.9 per cent. The environment was third at 6.4 per cent, followed by education (5.4 per cent) and the debt and deficit (5.3 per cent.)

The NDP has a lot riding on its leadership race later this month. Interim Leader Nycole Turmel is not popular with voters. Only 7.8 per cent of respondents said she had the best vision for Canada, which puts her slightly behind Green Party Leader Elizabeth May at 8.1 per cent. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was chosen by 32.6 per cent, followed by 16.2 per cent who chose Mr. Rae.

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