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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Liberal Party still trails the ruling Conservatives in most of the country but a new poll released on Thursday has it vaulting ahead of them in the important province of Quebec.
The Liberals under new party leadership now have almost twice the support of the Conservatives, which has nearly one-quarter of the seats in the House of Commons.
The CROP poll for La Presse has the federal Liberal Party at 31 percent in Quebec, still shy of the 34 percent for the separatist Bloc Quebecois but well above the 16 percent for the Conservatives and 15 percent for the leftist New Democrats.
In the October federal election, the Bloc took 49 seats with 38 percent of the vote, the Liberals won 14 seats with 24 percent, the Conservatives took 10 seats with 22 percent and the New Democrats took one seat with 12 percent of the vote.
Last month, the Liberal Party replaced Stephane Dion as leader with the more popular Michael Ignatieff, who is more popular nationally and especially in Quebec -- ironically, since he is from outside the province and Dion is from Quebec.
The Liberals still trail the Conservatives in most national polls, and they decided on Wednesday to keep the minority Conservative government in power rather than risking another election.
The poll covered 1,000 Quebec residents from January 15-25, a sample size that should be accurate to within 3 points, 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by Randall Palmer