Conservatives regain slim lead

Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:45am EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservative Party has regained a slim lead in support after a public lashing over his decision to have Parliament temporarily suspended, a poll released on Thursday showed.

The Conservatives lead the Liberals by 2 percentage points in the Ekos poll. Two weeks ago Ekos had the Liberals in the lead for the first time since July.

"The Conservatives should be heartened by the fact that the bleeding has clearly stopped," Ekos President Frank Graves said.

"However, a growing plurality of Canadians now feel the government is headed in the wrong direction, and that feeling is most pronounced in Canada's three largest provinces -- British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec -- each of which is a key electoral battleground."

The Liberals had fallen far behind when they decided in September to try to oust the Conservatives, reelected just a year earlier as a minority government.

The Liberals recovered some lost ground when they abandoned that attempt, and then the rest of the Conservative margin vanished after Harper arranged to have Parliament suspended until after the Olympics. The opposition said he was trying to hide, and his public support dipped.

The Conservatives are now pegged at 31.0 percent, the Liberals at 29.0 percent, the left-wing New Democrats at 15.5 percent and the separatist Bloc Quebecois at 10.3 percent. The Greens, which have no seats in Parliament, scored 11.3 percent.

The automated telephone poll conducted February 3-9 covered 3,006 Canadians. The sample of 2,632 decided voters carries a margin of error of 1.9 points 19 times out of 20.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Eric Walsh)