TORONTO (Reuters) - There's little to separate Canada's two main political parties in an opinion poll released on Thursday, making the outcome of a new federal election far too close to call.
The EKOS poll put support for the ruling Conservatives at 29.4 percent, compared to 28.6 percent for the Liberals, the main opposition party, giving neither party enough support to win either a majority or a stable minority government.
Support for the left-wing New Democrats rose to 19.3 percent. But under Canada's first-past-the-post voting system, that won't translate into enough seats to win power.
"Canada's federal vote intention race is once again deadlocked," EKOS said. "No party can secure even 30 percent support from the disenchanted Canadian electorate."
The Conservatives hold only a minority of seats in Parliament, and need support from at least one other party to stay in power. Many observers expect opposition parties to defeat the government's budget early next year, triggering an election soon after that.
"At these levels, no party is even close to forming a stable minority government, let alone a majority," EKOS said.
EKOS said its automated telephone survey polled 1,587 Canadian voters between November 3 and November 9. That's mostly after the government said November 3 that it would block the proposed takeover of fertilizer maker Potash Corp.
The takeover proposal, from Australian mining giant BHP Billiton, had proved unpopular in Canada, especially in Potash Corp's home province of Saskatchewan, where the Conservatives hold most of the seats.
Reporting by Janet Guttsman; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson