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Canadians keen on Trudeau’s ideas for economy, but not pot legalization: poll

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau delivers his closing address to delegates on day three of the party's biennial convention in Montreal on Feb. 22, 2014.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canadians are open to Justin Trudeau's economic entreaties, but are less enamoured with talk of democratic reform, a new poll suggests – while also pointing out the dangers of a proposal to legalize marijuana.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Reid for CTV, comes as Liberals hold a four-day policy convention in Montreal.

Respondents were asked their opinions on a wide range of policy proposals, some of which are being debated at the Liberal convention. Forty per cent of respondents said promising to enhance the Canadian Pension Plan would make them more likely to vote Liberal, with only 5 per cent saying they'd be less likely to. Similar measures of support were found for policies that promised to increase funding for mental health or reversing the planned hike in the age requirement for Old Age Security benefits.

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"When you start looking through the policies, the thing that really stands out is that the basic economic issues … seem to have resonance," said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

Respondents indicated lower support for most questions of democratic reform, such as the elimination of omnibus legislation – when a bill contains many unrelated changes to laws – or empowering the Speaker of the House of Commons. On those questions, a fifth to a third of respondents indicated they didn't "really know what this means."

"There is some change to the House of Commons people might be interested in, but fundamental reform might be confusing people," Mr. Bricker said.

The legalization of marijuana, possibly Mr. Trudeau's most controversial proposal, was the only policy that had a net negative effect on respondents' likelihood of supporting the party. Twenty per cent said the legalization of pot would make them more likely to vote Liberal, while 28 per cent they would be less likely to.

On most of the survey questions, 40 to 50 per cent of respondents said the proposed policy would not affect which party they would support.

The survey was conducted Feb. 14 to 19 via an online panel of 1,036 Canadians. The results were weighted demographically and the numbers are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Other questions on the survey found that most respondents believed Mr. Trudeau was more trustworthy than Prime Minister Stephen Harper or NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and that the next election would mostly be a contest between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

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Respondents were also overwhelmingly supportive of allowing a terminally ill person to be assisted by a physician in taking their own life. Legislation on the policy is being debated in Quebec's National Assembly, and Liberals are discussing it at their convention.

"There's a consensus starting to emerge here," Mr. Bricker said of the end-of-life question. He said it can depend, too, on how the question is phrased to those taking the polls – whether it's framed as a choice on behalf of the terminally ill person, or the more controversial term "assisted suicide."

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