Post-Thanksgiving Polls Show Liberals Firming Up Lead in Canada

A flurry of polls released over the two days after Canada’s Thanksgiving long weekend show Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has firmed up his lead with voters, while remaining shy of majority government territory.

According to the latest national averages compiled for CBC News, the Liberals have the support of 35.1 percent of voters, versus 31 percent for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and 23.3 percent for Tom Mulcair’s New Democratic Party. A daily tracking poll by Nanos Research Group released Wednesday has the Liberals at 36.1 percent, with the Conservatives at 29.2 percent and the NDP at 24.5 percent.

Based on these levels of support, the CBC estimates the Liberals would win 136 seats out of 338 seats. The Conservatives would take 118 seats and the NDP 80 seats.

Turnout, meanwhile, was sharply up in advance polls. An estimated 3.6 million people voted over four days, up 71 percent from 2011, when there were three days of advance voting, according to Elections Canada spokeswoman Diane Benson.

Battleground Ontario

The gains in Liberal support have been driven by vote-rich Ontario, where Trudeau seems to be taking support away from both the Conservatives and the NDP. Nanos has the Liberals at 45.2 percent in the province, versus 32.7 percent for the Conservatives and 17.6 percent for the NDP.

Ontario is where Trudeau and Harper have spent much of their time this week. Harper has been touring the province since Sunday in a bid to secure districts his party has won in recent elections. On Tuesday, the prime minister held an event in a western suburb of Toronto with the city’s former mayor, Rob Ford, in attendance. Ford, who was famously implicated in a crack cocaine scandal, remains popular in parts of the city, particularly among working class Conservatives. The two men did not shake hands, nor did Harper acknowledge Ford in his address.

Harper began Wednesday in London, Ontario and is scheduled to hold a rally later in the day in Toronto. Trudeau was scheduled to spend Wednesday in southern Ontario, beginning in Hamilton and ending in Ajax, just outside Toronto, before heading to Montreal.

Dollar Impact

Is a consensus emerging among analysts that a win for the Liberal Party, which is promising to run deficits to finance infrastructure, may be bad for the Canadian dollar and bonds? In a report Tuesday, Canaccord Genuity Group said a Liberal victory “could mean further Canadian dollar depreciation and higher bond yields,” with a risk that those deficits could become permanent.

A win for the Conservatives, and its pledge to balance the budget, could have the opposite effect, the report said.

The conclusions mirror a report last week by Macquarie Group, which predicted a minority Liberal government as the most probable outcome, a result that could weaken the country’s currency in part because of Trudeau’s possible reliance on the labor-friendly New Democratic Party to govern.

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