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Poll finds economy Canadians' top issue

Canada has the economy on its mind, and it's weighing very heavily.

OTTAWA – Canada has the economy on its mind, and it's weighing very heavily.

A new poll done for the Star and La Presse
by Nanos Research has found that 55 per cent of respondents rank jobs
and the dire state of the economy as the most important national issue
of concern.

That feeling was highest in Ontario, where 60 per
cent said the economy topped their list of concerns, a not-surprising
finding as manufacturing jobs vanish and the auto industry teeters.

"In
my 20 years of polling I have never seen the economy with such a high
score as the most important issue," said pollster Nik Nanos.

"This really speaks to the fact that we are in a new territory of concern that is very unusual.

"What this means for governments is that Canadians will be looking (at) many issues through the prism of the economy."

It's
an unenviable position for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government
because it's calling the shots as the economy tanks and it's also
losing government revenue, which restricts its ability to take action.

"For
the Liberals, it likely means that they should strategically distance
themselves from the government so as to avoid being linked to bad news
related to the economy," Nanos said.

Other opposition parties have criticized Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff for supporting the government's January budget.

The
job losses, credit squeeze and market plunges have so encompassed the
country that health care, a perennial top priority, was the ranking
concern of just 10 per cent of the 1,000 people surveyed.

It was
the same for the environment, which just one year ago was the
top-of-mind issue for the country, but now ranks as the No. 1 priority
for only 10 per cent of those surveyed.

Nanos said that doesn't
mean health care and environmental stewardship have dropped off
Canadians' radars, it's just that they don't present the urgent
priority of stemming the economic downturn.

The survey was conducted March 13 to 18 and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

 
 
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