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Canadians hope for worst, expect best

A poll taken just before prime minister Stephen Harper called the federal election for October 14 found that this time around most Canadians want the vote to result in a majority government, but expect another minority.

The Ipsos Reid poll, taken September 4 and released September 8, found 63 per cent would prefer a majority, but only 36 per cent believe that's what will happen. The numbers were even higher in B.C., with 67 per cent preferring a majority.

Much depends on what question was asked and how it was asked, said Christopher Anderson, a Wilfrid Laurier University political science assistant professor who organized a conference on minority government earlier this year.

“There might be that sense in a period of uncertainty that a minority government is another layer of uncertainty,” he said. People may want a government with a strong mandate during a time when the economy is shaky, he said.

At the same time, many Canadians don't see the value of a minority government. “In Canada we don't yet have a really good understanding of how minority governments can work,” Anderson said.

People don't talk about the advances made after the 1972 election when Pierre Trudeau's Liberals worked with the NDP in a progressive coalition, he said. Nor do realize how effective even Harper's minority has been.

“A lot got done in the last two and a half years,” Anderson said. But it was overshadowed by much political posturing. “There's a lot of sort of antagonism there.”

Based on a survey of 1,028 adults, the Ipsos Reid results are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20.

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