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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, would take his Liberal Party from a distant third in Parliament to forming the next government if he were chosen as Liberal leader, according to a poll released on Thursday.
The Forum Research phone poll, conducted for the National Post newspaper, said that if the 40-year-old member of Parliament was Liberal leader and an election was held now, his party would win 39 percent of the popular vote.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives would be reduced to 32 percent, and the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), currently the biggest opposition party, would be pushed back to third place with 20 percent.
Trudeau, a former school teacher, is expected to launch his run for the Liberal leadership next Tuesday, and with his 151,000 Facebook followers and the cache of his family name he would be the overwhelming favorite to win.
Until candidates lay out their policies, they often start with higher poll numbers than they end up with, but this poll gives some indication of the strength of the Trudeau name.
The Liberals have more often than not run Canada, and Pierre Trudeau was prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984. But for the past several elections the party has been squeezed by the NDP on the left and the Conservatives on the right. It suffered its worst showing ever in the 2011 election.
Liberal insiders say Trudeau tends to the left of the party.
The Forum Research poll was taken on Sept 26, the day news emerged that Trudeau would declare his candidacy. Forum surveyed 1,707 people, a sample size considered accurate to within 2 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
By comparison, an Environics poll taken before Wednesday's flurry of news about Trudeau, put the NDP at 35 percent, the Conservatives at 31 percent and the Liberals down at 20 percent.
Environics surveyed 1,600 decided voters, for a 2.4-point margin of error, from Sept 10-23.
The next election is not scheduled until October 2015.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway