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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservatives lead in public support but the opposition Liberals are nipping at their heels, according to a poll released on Thursday.
The Leger Marketing poll for Le Devoir and the Montreal Gazette put the Conservatives at 37 percent and the opposition Liberals at 32 percent.
The Conservatives of Prime Minister Stephen Harper won the January 2006 election with 36 percent of the vote. Leger Marketing said the Liberals were making advances in major provinces such as Quebec and Ontario, which between them account for more than half the 308 seats in Parliament.
"The Liberals are doing better than that the national figures suggest," said Leger's Christian Bourque.
Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 40 percent of the vote to stand a chance of winning a majority. The Conservatives have 126 seats.
The Leger poll of 1,500 people was conducted between February 5 and 10 and is considered accurate to within 2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Renato Andrade