Federal Liberals maintain lead over Conservatives

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Federal Liberals maintain lead over Conservatives

Two thirds oppose niqab in citizenship ceremonies

TORONTO March 14th, 2015 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1370 Canadian voters, more than a third (36%) will vote Liberal if a federal election were held today, while just one third would vote Conservative (32%). One fifth would vote for the NDP (21%), but few would vote Green (6%), Bloc Quebecois (4%) or for any other party (1%). This represents a slight decline for the Liberals since last month (February 11 - 39%) and stasis for the Conservatives (February - 32%).

In Quebec, the Liberals lead at one third of the vote (33%) to one quarter for the NDP (24%) and one fifth for the Conservatives (20%). Fewer than one fifth would vote Bloc (16%). In vote rich Ontario, where this year’s election will be won or lost, Liberals (38%) and Conservatives (37%) are tied, with a fifth of the vote going to the New Democrats (19%). In Alberta, the Conservatives take more than half the vote (51%), but the Liberals are not shut out (29%). In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals are absolutely dominant (63%). In BC, the Liberals and NDP are tied for second place (29% each) behind the Conservatives (35%).

Very tight Liberal minority seen

If these results are projected up to a 338 seat House of Commons, the Liberals would capture a minority of 138 seats (32 fewer than required for a majority) to 130 for the Conservatives, a very high 65 for the NDP , 4 for the Bloc Quebecois and 1 Green Party seat. This stands in contrast to last month when the Liberals were projected to take a majority of 194 seats to 112 for the Conservatives. The NDP were projected to take just 30 seats last month.

Two thirds oppose niqab in citizenship ceremonies

Two thirds of Canadian voters oppose allowing women to wear the face-covering niqab during citizenship ceremonies (67%), while fewer than a quarter favour the idea (22%). Just one tenth are undecided (10%). Opposition is common to GenX (45 to 54 - 76%), Boomers (55 to 64 - 75%) and seniors (65+ - 77%) but not the youngest (51%), the wealthier ($80K to $100K - 78%), in Quebec especially (87%), among Conservative voters (83%), among virtually every Bloc voter (96% - caution: small base size), Francophones (88%), Catholics (80%) and Evangelicals (80%).

Most find niqab inoffensive to Canadians and to themselves

Close to half of Canadian voters say the niqab is not offensive to Canadians in general (45%) and the majority do not find it offensive to themselves (57%). Four-in-ten say the niqab offends their countrymen (41%), but just a third say it offends them (36%). In each case, about one tenth have no opinion (14% and 8%, respectively).

Majority agree niqab oppresses women

The majority of Canadian voters agree the niqab is oppressive to women (57%), while just one quarter do not (24%). One fifth have no opinion (19%). Agreement women are oppressed by the niqab is common to Gen X (45 to 54 - 67%), mid income groups ($60K to $80K - 64%), in Quebec (73%), among Conservatives (70%), Bloc voters (78%) and Francophones (73%). Belief the niqab is not oppressive is characteristic of the youngest (32%), in Atlantic Canada (39%), among Liberals (31%), past New Democrats (32%), and those who are religious but not Christian (39%).

"We can’t say that the niqab controversy has damaged the Liberals, but it has clearly not helped the Conservatives. While Canadians agree the niqab has no place in citizenship ceremonies, they do not find it offensive, either to themselves or to the others. It is likely that this issue, as it directly affects such a vanishingly small number of women, will be little more than a sideshow in the general election," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at lbozinoff@forumresearch.com or at (416) 960-9603.