The New Democrats have increased their lead over the governing Conservatives to four points according to a new survey.

The new poll by Forum Research conducted on May 23 shows NDP support remaining steady at 36 per cent while the Conservatives have slipped one point to 32 per cent since the firm’s last poll of April 24-25. The Liberals, at 20 per cent, have dropped two points.

These variations are all within the margin of error. This indicates that, despite the attacks on Thomas Mulcair’s Dutch disease comments and the introduction of the Tories' new EI plans, Canadians remain unmoved by the rhetoric.

In fact, on both of these issues the New Democrats find themselves in agreement with the plurality of Canadians.

Fully half of Canadians disagreed with the statement that the “unemployed should be required to take any job available, whether or not it fits their qualifications and pay expectations” in order to qualify for EI benefits, compared to 41 per cent who agreed. Though the government’s position may be more nuanced, perception is almost as important. The highest rate of disagreement (62 per cent) came in Atlantic Canada, where the changes to EI are especially controversial.

New Democrats scored their best result in the region – 51 per cent – since well before the 2011 federal election. The margin of error is high considering the small sample size, but the NDP has been leading in many recent polls on the Atlantic coast.

According to the survey, a “low dollar supporting manufacturing” is favoured to a “high dollar based on resource exports” in every region of the country except Alberta, a position Mulcair has been advocating since before he became the NDP leader.

And in Ontario, where support for a low dollar registered highest and where the manufacturing industry has taken a hit in recent years, the New Democrats are now just one point behind the Conservatives: 34 per cent to 35 per cent, a narrowing of six points since the end of April.

However, a survey by Harris-Decima taken a week before Forum’s poll indicated more ambivalence to Mulcair’s remarks on Alberta's oilsands. In that survey, 45 per cent disagreed with him while 41 per cent agreed, with Ontarians disagreeing with the NDP leader by a larger margin. As the two polls asked very different questions, the results may reveal a variance between what Canadians think of what the oil industry brings to the country and what Canada’s increasingly resource-based economy means for the manufacturing sector.

In any case, this survey suggests that while Mulcair’s views may be pilloried by Western premiers and commentators in the press, they do resonate with some Canadians. Perhaps more importantly for the NDP leader’s aspirations, they resonate with enough Canadians to win an election.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.

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  • Reactions To EI Changes

    A selection of quotes on the newly announced changes to the employment insurance program.<br><br> <em><strong>With files from CP and CBC.</strong></em><br><br> (CP/Alamy)

  • Rona Ambrose

    "New EI changes are like 'E-Harmony' for job seekers and employers: matching Cdns looking for work with available jobs, data, support." - Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose, on Twitter. (CP)

  • Peggy Nash

    What we heard today is the minister scapegoating unemployed Canadians . . . that they are not trying hard enough to find work." - NDP Finance Critic Peggy Nash. (CP)

  • Rodger Cuzner

    "While we're glad to see that the Conservatives have backed away from earlier draconian proposals floated by their most senior ministers, including the minister of Finance, we're concerned that the announced changes will force many Canadians to take low-skilled, low-paying jobs, jeopardize the economic security of communities that are reliant on seasonal industries, and that the appeals process will now be handled by a handful of political appointees based in Ottawa instead of by regional experts that are familiar with local circumstances." - Rodger Cuzner, Liberal Human Resources critic. (CP)

  • Elizabeth May

    "The main beneficiaries of the current employment insurance rules are not the workers that Conservative rhetoric seeks to demonize, suggesting that something is wrong with 'repeat users', but rather the employers in forestry, fisheries and tourism industries." - Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. (CP)

  • Kathy Dunderdale

    "We certainly need more information than we have. People having to search for work and having to go within an hour's radius of where they live and so on, on the face of it, that doesn't sound all that onerous or difficult. But that depends on what you work at. In a province where we don't have public transportation, for example, if you're working for a minimum wage job and you have to travel 40 miles away, which is within the hour radius, to work at another $10-an-hour job, is that sensible? Is that prudent?" - Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale, scrumming with reporters at the provincial legislature in St. John's. (CP)

  • Darrell Dexter

    "I'm disappointed that the federal government failed to consult with the provinces and territories on an issue that will impact workers and their families across the country... Under the new rules, some EI recipients that are eligible now will become less eligible in the future. The changes will also make it difficult for some employers to stay in business, including operators in the farming industry. It is already a challenge to keep rural communities strong. Economic changes are forcing people to leave their homes and communities to find work, and in many cases, once they leave, they're gone for good." - Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, in a statement provided to CBC News. (CP)

  • Robert Ghiz

    "When it comes to the EI system in Canada, a one-size-fits-all does not work... On P.E.I., we are very fortunate that our three largest industries are fisheries, agriculture and tourism: all three industries that are seasonal in nature. We are different than downtown Toronto and we are different than downtown Calgary. We know the federal government is looking at making changes that would be a hindrance to our industries that rely on workers coming back year after year that have expertise in these areas, that they need to come back and help to get their products to market." - Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz, speaking in the legislative assembly in Charlottetown. (CP)

  • Gregory Thomas, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

    "The new EI rules strike a blow for hard-working Canadian taxpayers, against habitual pogey collectors who have been enjoying part-time work with other people's money for far too long... If you've been collecting pogey more than one year in the past five, maybe it's time to get some training, find a different line of work, or move to where the jobs are... Let's remember, these so-called benefits are nothing more than other people's EI tax money - over $20 billion dollars - forcibly taken from them... Every Canadian should be entitled to keep the money they work for, not have government tax it away and give it out in an attempt to buy votes." - Gregory Thomas, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, from a press release. (Handout)

  • Ken Georgetti, Canadian Labour Congress

    "What she should do as a responsible cabinet minister is take these changes out of that budget bill and start to talk to the people who know the system better than she... Instead she comes up with more fatuous suggestions about situations that really don't exist out there... This is ridiculous economic policy. It's short-term thinking and it's political football with the people that are the most vulnerable in our society. People who are unemployed don't want to be unemployed. This government would have you believe that they're sitting there and surfing off the shores of Nova Scotia or skiing in the mountains of British Columbia... it's not true." - Ken Georgetti, Canadian Labour Congress, speaking on CBC News Network. (Handout)

  • Catherine Swift, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

    "We believe the changes to defining suitable employment, based on how frequently EI is claimed, will help to remove disincentives to work and hopefully make it easier for small firms to find the people they need... Under the current system, 22 per cent of small business owners said they had difficulty hiring as potential workers would rather stay on EI benefits and another 16 per cent said they had been asked by an employee to lay them off to allow them to collect benefits... Employers agree that EI should be there for those who lose a job through no fault of their own, but do not accept that the system should be used as some form of paid vacation or ongoing lifestyle for those who choose not to work." - Catherine Swift, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, quoted in a news release. (Handout