May 22, 2015 / 4:19 PM / 4 years ago

Canada's leftist New Democrats take national lead: opinion poll

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), fresh from its upset win in the Alberta provincial election, has taken a narrow lead in public support nationally with unusual strength in the most populous province of Ontario, an opinion poll showed on Friday.

New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 12, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

The Ekos poll, on the iPolitics website, put the New Democrats at 29.6 percent and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives at 28.1 percent. The NDP’s main rivals on the left, the Liberal Party, sit at 26.1 percent.

A separate CROP poll published earlier on Friday gave the NDP, which has pledged to increase corporate taxes and social spending and boost the minimum wage, a commanding lead among Quebec voters in a federal election.

“It’s time for the skeptics to put away their doubts about the rise of the NDP,” Ekos pollster Frank Graves commented on iPolitics.

“We can ask how long it might last, but no one can dismiss these numbers as the result of a rogue poll or sampling error. It’s real - get over it.”

The NDP had vaulted into second place in the House of Commons in the 2011 federal election, displacing the once-powerful Liberals as Official Opposition.

It faded into third place in the opinion polls, however, after former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s son Justin Trudeau took over as Liberal leader in 2013.

Jockeying to be the lead anti-Harper party is critical as Canada prepares for its Oct. 19 election. The opposition parties want to be able to corral those voters who do not care whom they vote for as long as the Conservatives are displaced.

In 2011, more than half of the New Democrats’ seats were in Quebec province, with a weaker showing in Ontario and elsewhere, but Friday’s opinion poll showed the NDP tied with the Conservatives at 31 percent for the lead in Ontario.

And the NDP leads in the third most populous province, British Columbia, according to the Ekos poll.

“There’s a huge amount of momentum,” NDP President Rebecca Blaikie said in an interview on Thursday.

The CROP survey, published in La Presse newspaper, has the NDP at 42 percent in Quebec, the Liberal Party at 25 percent, and the Conservatives at 15 percent.

Ekos’s interactive phone poll surveyed 2,675 people from May 13-19, with a 1.9 percentage-point margin of error 19 times out of 20 for the total sample. CROP’s was an online survey of 1,000 Quebec residents from May 16-20.

With additional reporting by Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Editing by Grant McCool

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