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TORONTO (Reuters) - A new opinion poll put the ruling Conservatives 6 percentage points ahead of their nearest rivals but showed they did not have the support needed to win a majority government.
The Ipsos Reid poll, conducted for the CanWest media group and published on Friday at www.canada.com, gave the Conservatives the support of 35 percent of voters, down from 37 percent two week ago.
The opposition Liberals had the support of 29 percent of voters, up from 27 percent.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper forced out junior minister Helena Guergis from the government earlier this month after receiving what he said were serious allegations about her.
He said little more, prompting opposition accusations of a cover-up.
Under Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, a party typically needs at least 40 percent public support to capture a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives won a strengthened minority in the October 2008 election but, like the Liberals, seem unable to gain the strong support of voters.
Ipsos Reid surveyed 1,000 Canadians by phone from Tuesday to Thursday. The poll's margin of error was 3 percentage points, the article said.
Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Peter Cooney