Liberals would lose official party status if election held today: Poll

TORONTO – The Kathleen Wynne Liberals would face the humiliating prospect of losing official party status if an election were held now, a new Forum poll projects.

The Liberals are sitting at 19% support, polling third behind the PCs and NDP in the 416 area, and trending to win only seven of 122 seats, Forum Research says.

The Progressive Conservatives are currently enjoying a 24-point lead over the Liberals with 43% of voters who are decided or leaning, which would translate into a strong majority of 86 seats if an election were held today, the poll found.

And the NDP with 28% support would win 29 seats, making it the official opposition.

The Green Party was backed by 8% of those polled.

Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said the shift up until now has been Liberal supporters moving to the PCs, a right-wing momentum.

“It now looks like the centre is just melting on both sides,” Bozinoff said. “You’ve got the centrist Liberals drifting off to the right to the Tories and you have some of the centre-left Liberals drifting off to the NDP. Now the Liberals are getting it at both ends and both sides.”

There are currently 107 MPPs in the Ontario legislature, but that will increase to 122 seats for the 2018 general election to reflect population growth.

The governing Liberals also plan to add one or two seats in Northern Ontario, and following a review currently underway will bring the total count to 123 or 124 seats.

A party must have a minimum of eight seats to gain official party status, which comes with great advantages like funding for staff and research, as well as more prominence in Question Period.

If the current polling numbers stand until the election, even much of the Liberal cabinet could have trouble holding onto seats.

“Most cabinet ministers are not strong enough to buck trends,” Bozinoff said.

However, Wynne is known as an effective campaigner and the other two leaders are just not that well known, he noted.

When asked which of the current party leaders would make the best premier, the most popular choice was “none” at 30%.

PC Leader Patrick Brown was at 23%, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath at 22% and Wynne at 9%.

Bozinoff said the polling shows four problems cropping up each month for the Liberals, including the discontent over hydro rates, the concern about out-of-reach Toronto housing prices and the general baggage that any party has after 14 years in power.

“And the fourth thing is, I really don’t think they’re connecting with the everyday thinking of the average Ontarian; they’re not putting enough attention to the everyday issues and problems that Ontarians are having,” he said.

Forum Research surveyed 884 Ontarians between March 28 and 30, and the results are considered accurate plus or minus 3.3%, 19 times out of 20.

aartuso@postmedia.com

Toronto Sun BY Antonella Artuso

March 31st 2017

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