Bloc Quebecois regain poll lead

Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:30am EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The separatist Bloc Quebecois has regained a lead in support among Quebec voters in the election campaign, a Leger poll showed on Monday.

The pollster previously had the Conservatives two points ahead of the Bloc in the French-speaking province. But the separatists now are ahead, by 33 percent to 26 percent.

The Bloc seeks independence for Quebec but cannot achieve it in the federal Parliament.

The Conservatives still have a strong lead in national polls. but this latest poll suggests their scope for strong gains in Canada's second-most populous province will be limited, if this poll holds true on the October 14 election day.

The Liberals are polling at 23 percent in Quebec, the left-wing New Democrats at 12 percent and the Greens at 5 percent.

Pollsters say Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been hurt by perceptions that he does not support subsidies for arts and culture, particularly important in Montreal.

In Montreal, the Conservatives might continue to be shut out, but the Journal de Montreal, which published the poll, said a Conservative sweep of the less-populous Quebec City region was possible.

The poll still marks a decline in Bloc support from the 2006 election result, when it took 42 percent of the vote. The Conservatives got 25 percent and the Liberals 21 percent.

The survey was taken over an unusually long period of time, September 19-27, and may not reflect the full impact of the controversy over the arts. But the poll was exceptionally large, covering 3,624 people for a margin of error of 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

(Editing by Janet Guttsman)

<p>Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe laughs as he speaks to media during a campaign stop in Montreal, September 22, 2008. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>