Federal Conservative support dives on P.E.I: poll

It's too early to worry about polls, says Conservative Senator Mike Duffy.

A new poll shows support for the federal Conservatives is down across Atlantic Canada, and especially on P.E.I.

Even taking into account a large margin of error in the Corporate Research Associates poll, 5.7 percentage points, the drop in the Conservative support on the Island is significant. It fell from 53 per cent in November 2011 to 31 per cent in November 2012.

UPEI political scientist Peter McKenna believes there have been a number of federal government policies that have annoyed Island voters, starting with changes to Employment Insurance.

"Also, there was proposed changes with respect to the fishery," said McKenna.

"I think there was concern here about that on the Island. And probably if there was a third issue, I probably would think it would be Maritime union, P.E.I. is most resistant to Maritime union."

While not a policy of the government, the idea of Maritime union was recently moved forward by a group of Conservative senators, including Island Senator Mike Duffy.

The Island has just one Conservative MP, Gail Shea in Egmont. In that riding, people on the street told CBC News they feel Island issues are being ignored.

"This is a seasonal province, there's no way out of it," said Marilyn Thomas, in reference to changes in EI many feel hurt seasonal workers.

"I don't think our representative on the Conservative side has spoke out about it."

The main beneficiary of the drop in Conservative support has been the Liberals, who have controlled the province at the federal level since 1988. The poll showed support for the Liberals rose from 28 to 52 per cent. Islander Robin Stewart felt the Liberals should get some credit for turning opinion around.

"I guess a lot of people are looking at the Liberals thinking that they're doing not a bad job," said Stewart.

Conservative Senator Mike Duffy told CBC News it is far too early to write off the federl Conservative party on the Island. He said his party's track record will speak for itself when the next election rolls around in 2015.

"Let's see then how Canadians rate the kind of job of managing the economy, and creating jobs," said Duffy.

McKenna, however, said it is not a question of Maritimers writing off the Conservatives. He believes it is more the other way around. McKenna said the Stephen Harper government will focus on keeping its support in voter-rich Ontario and Western Canada.

"He knows that he doesn't need the Maritime provinces," he said.

The poll result are considered accurate within the margin of error 19 times out of 20.

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