Canada's ruling Conservatives gain support: poll

Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:16pm EST
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives have increased their lead over the opposition Liberals as election-style campaigning has picked up since the start of the year, a poll released on Friday said.

The Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper lead the Liberal Party by 37.3 percent to 24.8 percent, about a 2 percentage point gain for the ruling party in the past month and its largest lead since October 2009, according to an Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

The support level for the Liberals, led by Michael Ignatieff, represents a drop of about 3 percentage points since mid-January, and is lower than the results in the 2008 federal election, the party's worst-ever showing, the poll said.

Despite the Conservatives' gains, they would not be assured a majority of the seats in the House of Commons if an election were held now. Harper has led minority governments since first coming to power in 2006.

Among the other parties, the left-leaning New Democrats have 14.2 percent support; the Greens, which do not have a seat in the House of Commons, have 10.7 percent; and the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which fields candidates only in the province of Quebec, has 9.9 percent.

Each party has said it does not want an election this year, but nonetheless appear to be girding for a vote in advance of the federal budget, expected in March.

Ekos said its survey of 1,652 Canadians conducted between February 4 and 9 has a margin of error of 1.4 percentage points.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson)

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 8, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>