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OTTAWA (Reuters) - A scandal involving a former cabinet minister has helped cut public support for the Conservatives, who are now almost tied with their main rivals, according to a poll released on Thursday.
The weekly Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp put popular support for the Conservatives at 31.4 percent, down from 33.6 percent last week. Support for the main opposition Liberals rose to 29.0 percent from 27.3 percent.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week pushed out junior minister Helena Guergis after receiving what he said were serious allegations about her behavior. He has said little more, prompting opposition accusations of a cover-up.
Under Canada's first-past-the-post-electoral system -- where the candidate with the most votes in each constituency wins -- a party needs at least 40 percent public support to capture a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.
To win a workable minority government, it needs around 36 percent.
Almost half of the respondents said they felt the minority Conservative government -- which has been in power for more than four years -- was heading in the wrong direction.
A string of polls by various companies this year has revealed that voters are underwhelmed by both Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
The Ekos automated telephone survey of 1,355 adult voters was conducted between April 7 to 13 and is considered accurate to within 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway