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January 9, 2009

Liberals leading in new poll

CANADA - A new poll by Nanos Research shows the Liberals have passed the Conservatives in popularity, with the Liberals at 34% to the Conservatives 33%.

(The NDP came in at 19%, the PQ at 7% and the Greens at 7%.)

The change is largely due to new leader Michael Ignatieff, who has replace Stephane Dion following last fall's dismal election (the Liberals had the worst showing in history) and due to the current economic climate.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been denying Canada is in recession for the past year, finally admitted this week that Canada's economic situation is "troubling". Its like he stuck his head in the Alberta oil sands and ignored everything that was going on with the economy.

Critics say this is nothing new for Stephen Harper. He generally ignores anything to do with the economy and focuses on gay marriages, the war in Afghanistan, privatizing health care and making fun of the poor leadership skills of Stephane Dion.

The Liberals meanwhile are enjoying a renaissance, with their biggest gains in Quebec where they got 39% support and even passed the Bloc Quebecois' 29%. Indeed in Quebec, 30% picked Ignatieff as their best choice for Prime Minister, five points more than Harper.

Ignatieff still trails Harper nationally at 23% to Harper's 35%, but remember "Iggy" has only been leader for 30 days so that can change pretty fast.

The gains are enough that if an election was held today the Liberals would sweep BC, Newfoundland, Ontario and Quebec and a smattering of other seats in all the provinces (except maybe Alberta) and win either a strong minority government or a majority.

January 27th's Conservative budget for example will give Canadians a closer look at Ignatieff's leadership skills. He has pledged to hold the Conservatives to account with a pre-budget wish list of his own, including creating jobs with public works projects.

And the Conservatives don't have much choice but to listen to the Liberals. Without Liberal support for the budget Harper's government will be overthrown and Canada will either have a new election (with the Liberals currently leading in the polls) or a Liberal-NDP coalition government.

Seeing how Harper prorogued parliament just to stay in power the Liberal wish list will likely be adopted almost entirely. Harper isn't about to provoke an election when he's down in the polls. He's desperately clinging to power.

Here's the thing however, watch the Conservatives try and take the credit for Liberal budget ideas.

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