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Conservatives with clear lead, Liberals fall back 

Opposition parties tied for second place

TORONTO September 29th, 2015 – In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1499 Canadian voters, more than one third (34%) will vote for the Conservatives in next month’s federal election, while fewer than 3-in-10 will vote either for the Liberals (27%) or the NDP (28%). These findings represent a slight increase for the Conservatives since last week (September 23 – 31%), accompanied by a slight drop for the Liberals (from 31%). The NDP remain stable (September 23 – 28%). The Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois each attract one twentieth of the vote (5% each).
NDP lead in Quebec, BC; Conservatives lead in prairies, Alberta
In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals lead decisively (41%), while the NDP (28%) and the Conservatives (25%) strive for second. In Quebec, the NDP still lead, but not by so much as before (32%), and the Conservatives (24%) and Liberals (21%) are in close second place. In Ontario, the Conservatives (34%) and Liberals (33%) are tied, and the NDP lags (25%). In the prairies, the Conservatives have a dominant lead (41%), as they do in Alberta (60%). In BC, the NDP dominates (41%), with the Conservatives second (31%) and the Liberals third (21%).

Conservative minority seen; NDP opposition
If these results are projected up to seats in the newly redistricted 338 seat House, the Conservatives would take 151 seats, 19 fewer than required for a majority, while the NDP would form the opposition again with 104 seats. The Liberals would hold the balance of power with 76 seats. The Green Party would take their leader’s seat, and the Bloc Quebecois would seat as many as 6 members, up from none for the past several weeks of projections.

Conservatives most committed supporters, NDP less so
Close to three quarters of Conservative voters are strong supporters of their party (73%), compared to two thirds of Liberal voters (62%). Just more than half of New Democrat voters are strong supporters of that party (57%).

Conservatives expected to win election
More than one third of voters expect the Conservatives to win the election (36%), compared to just fewer than one quarter who expect either the Liberals or the NDP (24% each) to be victorious. One fifth of Liberal voters expect the Conservatives to win (20%), as do one tenth of New Democrats (12%), one fifth of whom also believe the Liberals will win (17%). Very few Conservatives believe another party will win.

Stephen Harper now seen as best PM
After a period when Tom Mulcair led or was tied in the race for best Prime Minister, Stephen Harper now occupies that position alone (29%), while Mulcair is second (25%) and Justin Trudeau is third (22%).

Leader approvals steady; Mulcair with slight increase
Stephen Harper has the approval of one third of voters (33%), and his net favourability is a very negative -28, and this hasn’t changed since last week (32% approval). Tom Mulcair has seen his approval increase from last week (46%) to this week (49%), and his net score is now a positive +16. Justin Trudeau’s approval has not changed (46%), and his net is a less positive +7.

Two thirds oppose niqab at citizenship ceremonies
Fully two thirds of Canadian voters disapprove of allowing fully veiled women to take the citizenship oath (64%), and this is especially common among the oldest (75%), males (67%), in Quebec (79%) and to a lesser extent, Alberta (69%), among Conservatives (84%) and among a majority of Liberals (57%), but among just a minority of New Democrats (44%). Francophones are more likely to oppose the idea (77%) than Anglophones (60%), as are the least educated (secondary school or less – 73%). One quarter approve allowing the niqab (26%), while one tenth have no opinion (10%). These results are stable since the last time we asked this question (March 17 – 67% oppose).

Close to one fifth with negative feelings towards Muslims
Close to one fifth of Canadian voters admit to negative feelings about Muslim people (18%), and this is especially characteristic of the oldest (23%), Quebeckers (23%), prairie dwellers (26%), Conservative (29%) and Bloc (28%) voters, Francophones (25%), the least educated (26%) and, not surprisingly, those who oppose allowing the niqab in citizenship ceremonies (25%). Findings on this measure are stable since last spring (March 12 – 18% have negative feelings), but the proportion of Conservative voters with these feelings has declined (from 36%).

Those who view Muslims negatively most likely to vote Conservative
Among those who have a negative view of Muslims, fully one half will vote Conservative (52%), while just one fifth or fewer will vote Liberal 19%) or NDP (17%). Among those with positive feelings towards Muslims, just one quarter vote Conservative (25%) and 3-in-10 or more vote Liberal (30%) or NDP (35%).

Majority agree niqab oppresses women
More than half of voters agree the niqab is oppressive to women (56%), and this has not changed significantly since March (57%). This view is especially common to younger groups (35 to 44 – 61%), mid income groups ($40K to $60K – 62%, $80K to $100K – 62%), in Quebec (69%), among Conservatives (65%), Francophones (70%), and among those with negative feelings towards Muslims (75%).

Very few think niqab should be election issue
Fewer than one quarter of Canadian voters think the niqab should be an important issue in this election (22%) and this view is most characteristic of the oldest (25%), the less wealthy ($20K to $40K – 32%), in Quebec (31%), among Conservatives (34%) and, especially, Bloquistes (46%), among the least educated (31%) and among those with a negative view of Muslims (45%). Two thirds do not think the niqab should be an election issue (69%), and one tenth have no opinion (9%).

“It appears the Conservatives have scored a palpable hit with their hard line this past week on the niqab. It resonates clearly in Quebec, and has even enlivened the Bloc Quebeois from near electoral death. Apart from that, it also appeals to the Conservative core voter, older, male, lower to mid income and less educated,” said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

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