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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives have a large lead over the opposition Liberals and stand a good chance of winning a Parliamentary majority in an October 14 federal election, according to a poll released on Saturday.
The Ipsos Reid survey for CanWest News Service put the Conservatives on 40 percent public support, up two percentage points from a poll by the same company a week ago. The Liberals dropped two points to 27 percent while the left-leaning New Democrats climbed two points to 15 percent.
It was latest in a string of polls showing that the Conservatives -- who hold just 127 of the 308 seats in the federal Parliament -- will do much better on Oct 14. The party took power after an election in late January 2006.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says only the Conservatives can be trusted to handle an economy increasingly affected by the slowdown in the United States, by far Canada's most important trading partner.
He has been particularly critical of the Liberals' plan to impose a carbon tax to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.
"I am not saying things are perfect in Canada. We have our challenges, not because of our economy, but because of our links and trade ties to the United States and others, who have big problems," Harper told La Presse newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
"In such times we need a government with a plan, a government that's serious about the population's economic future. The other parties don't have a plan and that's particularly true of the Liberal Party," he said.
Darrell Bricker, the chief executive of Ipsos Reid, said the poll showed far more Canadians trusted Harper on the economy than they did the other parties.
"It seems like this relentless march by the (Conservatives). They're not really making huge strides but ... obviously they're moving in the right direction," he told CanWest News.
Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 40 percent of the vote to win a majority. This can drop as low as 38 percent if the closest opposition party is at least 10 points behind.
The Ipsos Reid survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between Sept 16 and 18 and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by David Ljunggren, editing by Philip Barbara