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Voters not preoccupied by scandals. Social questions ranked biggest issue in next election: Poll [CA]

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Gordon, Sean
Publication Date: 
14 Nov 2005

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For all the opposition clamour about government corruption and questionable ethics, the central preoccupations of Canadian voters continue to revolve around issues like health care, education and the economy, a new poll shows.

As the Liberal government prepares to unveil a series of new pre-election measures today &emdash; including tax cuts &emdash; an EKOS Research survey suggests voters' priorities lie elsewhere.

According to the poll, conducted for the Toronto Star and La Presse, 50 per cent of voters rank social questions as the most important issue of the next election, 20 per cent say jobs and growth, 17 per cent say ethics, and 12 per cent indicate tax and debt relief.

Issues such as child poverty, daycare and the environment are far ahead of debt relief, tax cuts and crime, the data showed.

That would seem to indicate, on the surface, that the opposition focus on Liberal ethical lapses is wrong-headed.

But despite numbers that give him a lead among decided voters, Prime Minister Paul Martin has plenty to worry about.

While the Liberals are seen as having better solutions to social and economic questions than the Conservatives, the NDP has pulled ahead as the most credible in terms of social policy.

"Although the Liberals enjoy a nice advantage on questions of the economy and growth, their traditional advantage on social issues isn't nearly as strong.

"They're now running toe to toe with the NDP ... they probably want to open up a little space in terms of being seen as the plausible champion of the social agenda," said EKOS president Frank Graves.