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Iggy won't force election until Grits rise in polls: Marshall

VANCOUVER - No sooner had Canada dodged a summer election than the political rumor mill began churning out predictions of a September showdown leading to a federal election in November. But Hamish Marshall, who until recently served as a top pollster to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, offered a more sanguine election prediction.

“I think Ignatieff is fairly risk-adverse, watching what has happened in the last few days,” said Marshall, who now directs research for Vancouver polling firm Angus Reid Strategies.

“I would not expect him to force an election until the Liberals are ahead by five or six points on average, for about three months,” he said.

Recent polls have shown Ignatieff’s Liberals tied with – or two points ahead of – Harper’s Tories, but only for about a month.

Marshall attributed the Grits’ recent rise in fortunes primarily to discontent with the struggling economy: “There is dissatisfaction with the economy in Ontario, which is driving the Conservative numbers down.”

The former PMO insider’s comments came as part of a Thursday morning briefing by Angus Reid Strategies, which surveys a panel of 7,000 Canadians every three months on attitudes toward provincial and federal governments.

The June briefing presented analysis of the BC Liberals victory in the May provincial election, and offered a look at Canadian and U.S. attitudes toward the 2010 Winter Games. (Canadians as a whole were more enthusiastic about the Olympics than British Columbians, while only 30 per cent of Americans could identify B.C. on a map.)

Marshall emphasized that his observation was not a prediction.

“Anything could happen,” he said. “Ottawa gets into its own bubble, right?”

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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