Fri Mar 8, 2013
OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Liberals would return to power in the next Canadian election if, as expected, they choose the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to head the party, according to an opinion poll released on Friday.
The Forum Research poll showed the Liberals with Justin Trudeau as leader would be able to replace the Conservatives in power, albeit with a minority government, if an election were held today.
The center-left Liberals governed Canada for much of the 20th century, but fell to third place in the 2011 election. That left them behind the left-leaning New Democrats for the first time in history as the Conservatives turned their previous minority government into a majority one.
The Forum poll showed the Liberals under Trudeau would take 39 percent of the vote if an election were held now, compared with 32 percent for the Conservatives, and 20 percent for the New Democrats.
An election is not due until 2015, and the Conservatives have not yet ground Trudeau through their formidable advertising machine, making it impossible to predict if the poll figures will hold.
"Justin Trudeau continues to solidify his position at the top of the pops," the National Post newspaper, which ran the poll, quoted Forum President Lorne Bozinoff as saying.
Trudeau is a magnetic 41-year-old former teacher and ski instructor who has attracted 150,000 supporters to the Liberal Party during his leadership campaign, more than all the other leadership candidates combined. He heads into the April 14 convention as the heavy favorite.
His flamboyant father held power from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984. He died in 2000.
Justin Trudeau's popular support comes despite widespread doubts in Ottawa on whether he has the clout to become prime minister. He has given few specifics on how he would run Canada other than offering generic goals such as protecting and expanding the middle class.