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parliament on pause

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff delivers a speech during the party's winter caucus meeting on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, January 20, 2010.

1. The boomer bounce. Canada's baby boomers, according to a new EKOS poll, are a fickle lot. But they vote; so they're good to keep an eye on.

Pollster Frank Graves says as the race tightens between the two major parties, baby-boomers could play a big role in the next election. The boomers supported Stephen Harper's Conservatives in the last two elections, in particularly the richest of them.

They went over to the Liberals when the markets tanked; as the economy improved they moved back to the Tories.

"Now many are defecting to the Liberals again, apparently unhappy with the Conservatives' governance style. The Conservatives still lead among this group, but their lead is much less significant than it was," Mr. Graves told The Globe today.

On national federal vote intention, the latest poll - which puts the two main parties in an effective tie - shows that 34.4 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 45 and 64 support the Conservatives compared to 31 per cent for Michael Ignatieff's Liberals.

At the end of October - when Mr. Harper was enjoying a double-digit lead - EKOS had the same age group split 41 per cent for the Tories and 27.4 for the Grits.

The current poll of 2,517 Canadians was conducted between January 13 and 19. It shows the Conservatives and Liberals neck and neck at 31.5 per cent to 30.9 per cent overall.

It also notes the Liberals have regained a small lead in vote-rich Ontario (37.7 per cent versus 33.5 per cent) and a bigger lead in Atlantic Canada (41.8 per cent versus 28 per cent). They are also the top ranking federalist party in Quebec - 25.5 per cent for the Liberals; 18.1 per cent for the Tories compared to 11.2 per cent for the NDP, with the Bloc topping everyone at 36 per cent for the Bloc.

2. Follow the leader. Michael Ignatieff's team is finding that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery as NDP MPs have decided now they should show up for work Monday as well. They're following the Liberals, who repeatedly vowed to show up for work Jan. 25, the day Parliament was scheduled to return until the Prime Minister pulled the plug last month.

The Liberals are now gleefully noting this New Democratic "flip-flop." In a statement sent to reporters under the heading "Capitulayton chronicles," they say NDP House Leader Libby Davies announced earlier this month that her colleagues would be working hard from their ridings. But yesterday, after the party's two-day caucus retreat, Jack Layton said some MPs would be on the Hill and others would be fanning out across the country to talk to voters about pensions, the economy and climate change.

"The NDP have flip-flopped on their decision to stay in their ridings following Mr. Harper's decision to shut-down Parliament, and are now following the Liberals as role models on How MPs should conduct themselves," the statement says.

Meanwhile, the NDP Leader beat them to the punch with his proposal to reform the way prorogation is used. He says he will craft a new law requiring MPs vote on whether the House should be prorogued.

The Liberals have not yet formally responded to this: "We are happy to see that people are talking about the issue," a senior Liberal official said. "Mr. Ignatieff has been quite clear that he would not abuse that power the way Stephen Harper does - i.e. to get out of a tight political spot. We have a working session on governance next week and we will give more details then."

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