TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives and the main opposition Liberals both lost ground in a poll published on Friday as the left-leaning New Democrats enjoyed a surprising surge in public support.
Backing for the second-largest opposition party in Parliament, known as the NDP, jumped 6 percentage points to 19 percent, according to an Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by Canwest News Service and Global National.
Support for the Conservative Party, which formed a strengthened minority government after elections last autumn, dropped 3 points to 37 percent, while the Liberals' support slipped 1 point to 24 percent from the previous Ipsos Reid survey in late October.
After running fairly even with the Liberals through the summer, the Conservatives jumped ahead in September when the main opposition declared its intention to take down the government and force new elections -- a prospect that did not sit well with election-weary voters.
In the latest poll, the Conservatives, who rely on the support of at least one other party in Parliament, lost some of that advantage, having slipped below the 40 percent mark considered necessary to form a majority government.
After two partial election victories on November 9, the Conservatives will have 145 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons. Ten more seats would have given them a majority.
Much of the NDP's new support came from Ontario, Canada's most populous province and perhaps its most important election battleground.
Darrell Bricker, chief executive of Ipsos Reid, linked the NDP's gains to dissatisfaction with the Liberal government of Ontario, which is pushing through a new revenue regime known as the harmonized sales tax.
"The NDP is really starting to define a position on that issue," Bricker told Canwest News Service in a report published on the website of the National Post newspaper. (here)
The Bloc Quebecois, the separatist party that fields candidates only in Quebec, garnered 9 percent support nationally and 38 percent in the French-speaking province. The Green Party's support dipped 1 point to 10 percent.
The Ipsos Reid survey of 1,003 adults was conducted from Tuesday to Thursday. It is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by Frank McGurty; editing by Chris Wilson