OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservatives and the opposition Liberal Party are tied in public support, but the Liberals are inching ahead in major vote-rich areas, according to a poll released on Monday.
The Harris-Decima poll for the Canadian Press put the Conservatives at 32 percent support, the same level as in a survey done by the same firm last week. The Liberals rose one percentage point to 32 percent, while the left-leaning New Democrats were steady at 15 percent.
The results indicate that an election now would result in deadlock. The Conservatives won a strengthened minority in October 2008, but still need the support in Parliament of at least one opposition party to stay in power.
The Conservatives, who were up to 15 percentage points ahead of the Liberals just two months ago, saw their support fall away after Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to have Parliament suspended for two months in late December.
Harris-Decima pollster Allan Gregg said the Liberals were now looking competitive again in major provinces like Quebec and Ontario, which between them account for more than half of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.
"The Conservatives' slow-motion redrawing of the Canadian political map that we were witnessing for the better part of 2009 is now being erased in first weeks of 2010," Gregg said in a statement.
Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 36 percent of the vote to win a workable minority. Harper says neither he nor the Canadian public wants an election now.
The Harris-Decima poll of 2,000 adults was carried out between Jan 21 and 31 and is considered accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway