OTTAWA, February 26, 2002 ( – Stockwell Day leads Stephen Harper among both Canadian Alliance voters and voters as a whole in a new Compas poll released February 23. The poll results mark a dramatic turnaround from a previous Compas poll taken in August 2001, which showed Harper with a three-to-one lead among all voters and close behind even among core Alliance voters.

In the new poll, Day leads Harper by a 22% to 11% margin among all voters polled, and by 34% to 22% among Alliance voters. In August 2001, Harper led Day by 28% to 10% among all voters, and Day led narrowly by 37% to 30% among Alliance voters.

In related news, a small group calling itself the Concerned Christian Coalition has come out in favour of Stephen Harper’s candidacy despite Harper’s attacks on Day for encouraging participation of Christians in the Alliance leadership. Craig Chandler, executive director of the Coalition, a Calgary-based group, said his group of 400 members plans to support Harper. The Globe and Mail reports that Chandler has admitted that he is out to split the social-conservative vote. “If we can create a split in the social-conservative side of things, it’s going to be pretty difficult for him to recover,” Chandler is quoted as saying. He said his group plans to send a letter to 4,000 Pentecostal and evangelical churches to suggest they not support Mr. Day. A disgruntled former Reform party member, Chandler is known for organizing the unite-the-right Roots of Changes conferences under the auspices of his Progressive Group for Independent Business. His role as a spokesman for a Christi! an political organization appears to be a new phase of his public activities.

Eric Duhaime, a spokesman for Mr. Day, said it’s wrong for Mr. Harper to accept Mr. Chandler’s support while earlier having criticized Mr. Day for seeking the backing of single-interest groups. “It’s hypocrisy,” Mr. Duhaime said. “Why this flip-flop in the Harper camp? I don’t get it.”

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