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Most Canadians optimistic about economic recovery: poll

OTTAWA - Canadians are feeling pretty good about where their economy is headed.

OTTAWA - Canadians are feeling pretty good about where their economy is headed.

That's the conclusion drawn from a new Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey. The poll suggests six in 10 Canadians think the economy will bounce back at least twice as strongly as it will in the United States.

"We wanted to see: Are Canadians feeling that good about how things are? And what the data told us is, 'Yes, they are,"' said Jeff Walker, Harris-Decima's vice-president.

"They feel like things are really rebounding, that things are turning around, and that based on what they observe about the U.S. that it could be the case that we have twice the level of growth they do this year."

The poll results echo recent projections by Canada's top banker, who has all but declared the recession over and said the economy will begin growing this summer after nine months of stagnation.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney recently said the summer quarter should produce growth of 1.3 per cent, the first quarterly economic expansion in Canada since last fall.

But Carney's rosy projections were fraught with cautions and caveats.

He warned economic recovery hinges on massive government stimulus and the central bank's vow to keep the policy interest rate at the historic low of 0.25 per cent until mid-2010.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has cautioned against overly optimistic assessments, warning that Canada will continue to shed jobs even if there is GDP growth.

Canada's labour market shed another 45,000 jobs in July as more people struggled to find work, while the unemployment rate stayed at 8.6 per cent during the month.

The state of the American economy is another roadblock to a solid bounceback in Canada.

The world's biggest economy's housing market has been battered in recent years, and weak consumer spending and massive government deficits threaten to keep the U.S. on the skids for a while longer.

That will weaken growth prospects in all of America's trading partners, particularly its largest, Canada.

But the poll suggests most Canadians aren't put off by any of that.

"There's a sense, number one, that there's demand for what we've got, maybe that's greater than demand for what (the) Americans' got," Walker said.

"The other thing that people say when we talk to them about this is ... we were in solid economic position going into this in terms of our debt and deficit situation."

"So even though we had to incur a deficit through this period of time, our books were pretty solid going in. And, I think, a lot of people feel like if your books are pretty solid when you go into a bad time, you can usually weather it better."

Western Canadians were slightly more optimistic about the economic recovery than those in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, the poll suggests.

Conservative supporters were more confident about the economy's rebound than those who back other political parties.

Seventy per cent of Tory backers thought Canada's economy would outperform the United States', compared to 65 per cent for the Liberals, 62 per cent for the Bloc Quebecois and 48 per cent for the NDP.

The telephone poll of 1,000 Canadians was conducted from July 23 to 26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

 
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