09/09/2011 01:10 EDT | Updated 11/09/2011 05:12 EST

NDP, Liberal Merger Idea Gets Cool Reception From Canadians: Poll


OTTAWA - Talk of a potential party merger between the federal New Democrats and Liberals is getting a cool reception from Canadian voters, according to a new poll.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey found a strong majority of respondents in every region of the country opposes the scenario of folding the NDP and Liberal parties together.

The poll comes as the NDP national council met Friday to decide a process for selecting a new party leader to replace Jack Layton, who died of cancer last month.

Layton's untimely death after his party's historic breakthrough to official Opposition status in the May federal election has prompted renewed speculation about a potential merger of Canada's two main centre-left political parties.

The poll of just over 1,000 respondents — conducted over the Labour Day weekend — found that 63 per cent opposed a merger and just 24 per cent supported the idea, a trend that covered income, age and gender groups across Canada's regions.

Pollster Allan Gregg of Harris-Decima says the results suggest both Liberals and New Democrats "have their work cut out for them for the foreseeable future."

"The public opposition to a merger — and especially the lack of appetite among Liberal and NDP partisans — makes it unlikely that this notion is going to be embraced by any credible champion any time soon."

Among all the groups polled, self-identified Liberals were most likely to support a merger, with 38 per cent in favour, while just one in four New Democrats, 26 per cent, liked the merger idea.

Conservatives were the most opposed of all groups, with 75 per cent against a merger.

And in Quebec — the new home to 59 of the NDP's 102 MPs in the House of Commons — 65 per cent of the poll respondents opposed a merger with just 23 per cent in favour.

The poll, conducted Sept. 1-4, is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20, with larger margins of error for smaller subsets.