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Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers a question during the English language federal election debate in Ottawa Ont., on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. (Chris Wattie/The Canadian Press/Chris Wattie/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers a question during the English language federal election debate in Ottawa Ont., on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. (Chris Wattie/The Canadian Press/Chris Wattie/The Canadian Press)

Nanos poll

Tory support unharmed by G8 spending, but debates yet to register Add to ...

The Teflon coating around Stephen Harper and his Conservatives is showing no cracks despite two days of sustained attacks over the leaked Auditor-General's report, according to a new Nanos Research poll.

Mr. Harper's Tories remain in the lead with 39.9-per-cent support compared to 30.4 per cent for Michael Ignatieff's Liberals; the NDP are at 16.3 per cent; the Greens are at 3.8 per cent and the Bloc is at 9.1 per cent nationally.

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The survey did not measure the effect of last night's English-language leaders' debate; that will come later in the week.

"This is the second day that the controversy related to the A-G report has been in the news and there hasn't been any significant negative impact on the Conservative support as a result of that," Nik Nanos, the election pollster for the Globe and Mail and CTV, said Wednesday morning.

The pollster was referring to leaked drafts of a report from Auditor-General Sheila Fraser that raised significant concerns about the way in which the Harper government spent millions of dollars for last summer's G8 Summit in Huntsville, Ont.

Although the national numbers have hardly moved, Mr. Nanos is detecting changes regionally, especially in Quebec.

He said there is a "noticeable decline" in Liberal support in the province, most of which is concentrated in Montreal.

"So it looks like any gains the Liberals realized on the island of Montreal last week are now dissipating," he said. Mr. Ignatieff had toured for a couple of days in Quebec, through the Eastern Townships and into Montreal.

The Bloc, meanwhile, is back to its usual strength in Quebec - 38.6 per cent. This compares to the 38.1-per-cent support it had in the 2008 election. It has 47 of the 75 seats in the province. The Conservatives have 11 seats; the Liberals 14 and the New Democrats have one. There is one Independent MP and one vacancy.

But these new Quebec numbers mean that Gilles Duceppe, the Bloc leader, walks into Wednesday night's French-language debate with wind under his sails.

But what do the Quebec numbers mean for Mr. Harper and his Conservatives?

"I think what the polling suggests is that the Conservatives can likely hold on to what they have at this particular point, subject to what happens in the Quebec debate," Mr. Nanos said. "If the [Conservative Leader]gets through the Quebec debate without having sustained any kind of major damage, then it's probably a pretty good likelihood ... that he can hold on to what he has but not grow it."

The poll of 989 Canadians was conducted between April 10 and April 12; it is accurate plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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