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The Globe and Mail

Most voters want Harper and Ignatieff to step aside, poll finds

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff are shown in a combo photo from June 17, 2009.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canadians would like to see fresh leaders at the helm of both the federal Conservative and Liberal parties, a new poll suggests.

Half of respondents to Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press said the Conservatives need to replace Prime Minister Stephen Harper. And 64 per cent said the Liberals need to replace Michael Ignatieff.

Mr. Harper at least enjoyed solid support among those who identified themselves as Conservatives: Seventy-four per cent said they don't want a new leader. That represents the strongest endorsement of any federal party leader from his or her own supporters.

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Mr. Ignatieff, by contrast, was the least loved by his own, with 59 per cent of Liberals saying he should go.

Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg said the survey results help explain why the Tories and Liberals remain persistently mired in a dead heat, both well short of the support levels needed to win a majority.

"It really does underline both the reason that we've seen so little change in voter choice … but also why Harper can't break out of his [minority]position and why Ignatieff can't obviously take advantage of the opportunity," Mr. Gregg said in an interview.

The poll puts support for Mr. Harper's Tories at 32 per cent, statistically tied with the Liberals at 30 per cent. The NDP were at 15 per cent and the Greens at 10 nationally while, in Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois dominated with 46 per cent.

Mr. Gregg said support for the two main parties has been essentially stalled for six years and that likely won't change as long as people remain unimpressed by the leaders.

"What it says is that we're likely to see the pattern that we've seen for the past six years, which is kind of a hung Parliament based on two political parties that have … in the case of the Conservatives, a very, very hard ceiling in the amount of support they can get and, in the instance of the Liberals, …no enthusiasm for the alternative.

"It's a classic case of the evil of two lessers," he chuckled.

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A plurality of respondents supported the continued leadership of the NDP's Jack Layton (49 to 36 per cent) and the Green party's Elizabeth May (44 to 24 per cent).

In Quebec, Gilles Duceppe's continued leadership of the Bloc was endorsed by 52 per cent, with 37 per cent wanting a new leader.

The telephone poll of just over 1,000 people was conducted Nov. 11-14 and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

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