In one respect, the results of an Angus Reid poll to be released on Monday are not surprising - the Conservatives are at 35 per cent, the Liberals at 27 and the NDP are at 19 per cent; in Quebec, the Bloc leads with 37 per cent.
However, the poll also asked Canadians how they would vote if the Liberals and NDP went to the polls offering Canadians a coalition government, and here things get interesting.
According to the results published in Monday's edition of La Presse, the Conservatives led by Stephen Harper would defeat a coalition led by Michael Ignatieff 40-34 per cent.
With Bob Rae as Liberal leader, the coalition and Conservatives would be tied.
However, if the coalition were to propose Jack Layton as prime minister, according to the Reid poll, it could defeat the Conservatives by 43-37 per cent.
The reason: Jack Layton is well-liked by Quebecers but they don't vote for the NDP because they see no chance of the party forming government; with the prospect of Mr. Layton in the prime minister's office, 44 per cent of Quebecers would vote NDP - 10 per cent more than the Bloc.
The pollster says that the question was only theoretical, and was only asked because of the results of the British election and because of Jean Chrétien's statement on CBC last week that if a coalition is doable they parties should do it. And it's hard to believe that these numbers would last through a campaign, though it's worth noting that the poll has Mr. Layton as the most popular of the federal leaders (30 per cent to Harper's 29). But it sure would make for an interesting election, and, in the nearer term, it will be interesting to see how the Liberals deal with the results of the survey.
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