A third of Canadians would support holding a new federal election this fall, but most believe this possibility is unlikely.

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The Conservative Party maintains the upper hand in Canada as the Green Party reaches double-digits for the first time this year, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,008 Canadian adults, 34 per cent of respondents (+1 since August) would support the governing Conservative Party in the next federal election.

The Liberal Party is second with 26 per cent (-3), followed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) with 18 per cent (-1), the Green Party with 11 per cent (+2), and the Bloc Québécois with 10 per cent (=).

The Liberals, NDP and Bloc are matching their vote share from the last federal election, while the Tories are three points behind. The biggest gainers are the Greens, who now stand four points ahead of their 2008 nationwide total.

Regional Breakdowns

Half of voters in Alberta (52%) and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (50%) continue to express a preference for the Conservatives. In British Columbia, the Tories are ahead with 39 per cent, followed by the NDP with 24 per cent and the Grits with 18 per cent.

In Ontario, the Conservatives are ahead of the Liberals by a three-point margin (36% to 33%). In Quebec, the Bloc continues to dominate (38%), with the three federalist parties far behind (Lib. 22%, NDP 17%, Con. 17%).

Approval and Momentum

The approval rating for Prime Minister and Conservative leader Stephen Harper stands at 25 per cent this month (-1). NDP leader Jack Layton remains at 27 per cent, and Liberal Party and Official Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff is last with 15 per cent (+1).

While Layton maintains the best momentum score of the three leaders at -9, the proportion of respondents who say their opinion of him has worsened increased by eight points since August. Ignatieff’s momentum score is -16 (worse than in August, but better than in July), while Harper checks in at -23.


Canadians were asked to select up to six words or expressions from a list to describe the four party leaders sitting in the House of Commons. The top five results for each one of the leaders are:

• Stephen Harper – Secretive (38%), arrogant (36%), dishonest (36%), out of touch (33%), uncaring (31%)

Compared to August, Harper lost points on three negative categories (arrogant, secretive and boring) and gained points on one negative category (dishonest).

• Michael Ignatieff – Boring (35%), arrogant (33%), out of touch (31%), intelligent (30%), inefficient (24%)

All fluctuations for Ignatieff were smaller than four points.

• Jack Layton – Intelligent (29%), down to earth (27%), honest (25%), compassionate (24%), open (24%)

Compared to August, Layton lost points on one positive category (intelligent) and gained points on one negative category (arrogant).

• Gilles Duceppe – Arrogant (30%), out of touch (27%), inefficient (21%), boring (21%), intelligent (20%)

Compared to August, Duceppe lost points on one positive category (intelligent) and gained points on two negative categories (secretive and inefficient).

A Fall Election?

Across the country, one third of Canadians (34%) would support holding a federal election this fall, while just under half (44%) disagree with this course of action.

Respondents who voted for the NDP (54%), the Liberals (54%) and the Bloc (50%) in the 2008 federal election are more likely to support holding a new federal ballot than those who voted for the Greens (35%) or the Conservatives (28%).

Almost half of respondents (47%) think it is “not too likely” or “not likely at all” that a federal election will be held this fall in Canada—including majorities of supporters of all five major parties.


The debate over the long gun registry has not helped any of the three main political leaders. The numbers for Harper and Ignatieff are stagnant, and Layton saw a marked drop in momentum, although he continues to outrank his two rivals.

The Greens have been boosted by a surge in support in the West. The party is very close to matching the Liberals in British Columbia, and is ahead of the NDP in Alberta. In Quebec, the Bloc is closing in on the 40 per cent mark, with the NDP matching the Tories for third place. Ontario remains tightly contested, with the Tories once again edging the Grits by a mere three points.

The appetite for a fall election is clearly bigger for supporters of the three main opposition parties currently represented in the House of Commons. However, even they admit that, as of now, the possibility of a new ballot is unlikely.

This year’s editions of the Canadian Political Pulse can be accessed here: January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)


Jaideep Mukerji, Vice President, Public Affairs
+514 409 0462

Methodology: From September 27 to September 28, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.