VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Support for the Conservative government has slipped as political parties jostle in advance of the new budget and a possible spring election, according to a poll released on Thursday.
The Conservatives still lead the main opposition Liberals, registering 34 percent support among decided voters. But that is down 5 points from early December, said the Ipsos Reid survey for Postmedia News and Global Television.
The Liberals had 29 percent support, the same as in December. The left-leaning New Democrats had the support of 16 percent of voters, up 4 points from the December survey.
The separatist Bloc Quebecois, which runs candidates only in Quebec, had 42 percent support in the French-speaking province, compared with the Liberals at 16 percent, Conservatives at 15 percent and New Democrats at 14 percent.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives have a minority government, which means they require the support of at least one of the opposition parties to pass major legislation, such as the budget, and remain in power.
The poll indicates the Conservatives would win if an election were held today, but again fall short of winning a majority government. They were elected as a minority government in 2006, and re-elected in 2008.
The next budget is scheduled to be unveiled in March.
The parties have said they are not interested in forcing an election in the spring, but have been running campaign-style television ads before the budget's release.
Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker said that while the Conservatives enjoyed growing support late last year, it appeared voters began to get worried about them as the political rhetoric heated up.
The telephone poll of 1,008 people was conducted from January 20 to February 2 had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
Reporting Allan Dowd; Editing by Peter Cooney