OTTAWA (Reuters) - The popularity of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party has declined further in the key province of Quebec and more broadly in Canada, a poll released on Tuesday showed.
The Strategic Counsel survey, released in the Globe and Mail, put the opposition Liberals ahead of the Conservatives 35 percent to 30 percent in popular support in Canada. A month earlier they had led the Conservatives by only 2 points. The left-leaning New Democrats stood at 16 percent.
In Quebec, where the Conservatives had taken almost a quarter of the votes and 10 of 75 seats in the last two elections, they slipped to 9 percent support in the poll. The Liberals were at 37 percent and the separatist Bloc Quebecois at 39 percent in the mainly French-speaking province.
Harper had put much effort into building support in Quebec but it has largely evaporated as non-separatist sentiment there has shifted to the new Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff.
“This Tory bridge seems burned to a crisp (in Quebec),” the Globe quoted Strategic Counsel pollster Peter Donolo as saying.
The Conservatives were reelected last October with a strong minority of seats in the House of Commons. That means he could in theory be forced by the opposition to call another election, but it would require all three opposition parties to agree to do so. Most consider a new election unlikely before the autumn at the earliest.
The poll surveyed 1,004 people from May 6 to 10, a sample size considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20. The margin of error is substantially higher for Quebec.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway