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Conservative MP Michael Chong holds a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on December 3, 2013.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

A new poll suggests Canadians support efforts to rein in the power of political party leaders, but they don't agree with all the measures in a Conservative backbencher's democratic reform bill that is meant to deal with the issue.

About 61 per cent of respondents to a Nanos survey agreed that local party associations should have supreme authority in nominating candidates, while 23.5 per cent said a national party leader should have oversight. 15.6 per cent were unsure. Currently, a national party leader must sign a candidate's paper, creating a de facto veto power. But Conservative MP Michael Chong's C-586 bill currently before the House of Commons would change that.

The proposal was introduced in the House in April and passed a second reading vote 253-17 in September, and will next be studied by the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Mr. Chong has pulled the bill's provisions back twice in a bid to gain more support for it, which ultimately succeeded in winning over party leaders and many Conservative cabinet ministers. For instance, an earlier version of the bill would have given local riding associations full authority on determining who their nominated candidate is for an election, taking away a party leader's power to approve all nominees. In its current form, the bill hands that power to a person designated by a party, who may or may not be the party's leader.

Seventy-three per cent of respondents to the Nanos poll, conducted for iVote at the University of Ottawa, said an MP should only be expelled from a party's caucus by a majority vote of their fellow MPs. Mr. Chong's bill would trigger an expulsion vote if more than 20 per cent of the party's caucus requested it. That, in turn would require a majority to pass.

Respondents differed from Mr. Chong, though, on what to do about unpopular leaders. In his bill, Mr. Chong proposes to give caucus the ability to review their party leader through a similar mechanism – a majority vote after 20 per cent of caucus requested it – but, in a later amendment, Mr. Chong agreed parties would have to opt-in to accept this rule. Two-thirds of respondents said a vote by the general party membership was the "most appropriate" way to remove a leader – the current practice – while a quarter of respondents agreed that the caucus of MPs should have the power.

The Nanos Research poll surveyed 1,000 Canadians by contacting them through cellphones, landline telephones and online, between Nov. 15 and 18. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.