TORONTO, (UPI) — The Winter Olympic Games gave Canada’s minority Conservative government a significant boost in popularity, a poll published Tuesday showed. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a 46 percent popularity rating in the Ipsos Reid poll conducted for the Canwest News Service and Global TV.
Main opposition leader Michael Ignatieff of the Liberals fell to third place with 29 percent support behind Jack Layton, leader of the socialist New Democratic Party with 33 percent. Harper maintained a high profile at the Olympics, in which Canada won its unprecedented 14 gold medals. He suspended parliament at the end of December, saying his government needed time to craft a long-term economic post-recession recovery plan.
Critics alleged he was ducking the issue that Canadian soldiers turned over Afghan detainees to local authorities knowing they would be subjected to torture. Harper’s popularity was up 3 percent from a similar poll a year ago, while Ignatieff’s rating was down 12 percent, the release said. The telephone survey of 1,000 people across the country Feb. 18-22 had a 3.1 percent margin of error, Ipsos Reid said.