January 9, 2008 / 8:58 PM / in 10 years

Canada's ruling Conservatives rise in new poll

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s ruling Conservatives have regained a healthy lead over the opposition Liberals but still do not have enough public support to gain a parliamentary majority, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands to speak in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa December 10, 2007. REUETRS/Chris Wattie</p>

The Harris-Decima survey for Canadian Press put the Conservatives at 37 percent, up seven points from a poll done by the same firm in mid-December. The Liberals were down two points to 30 percent.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion is under pressure from some of his own legislators to try to bring down the minority government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which was elected in late January 2006.

Dion was noncommittal when asked earlier in the day whether he planned to try to defeat Harper in Parliament and force an election.

Bruce Anderson of Harris-Decima told Canadian Press that the increase in support for the government was linked to the holiday period, when opposition parties had less chance to attack Harper. Parliament is set to resume sitting on January 28.

Under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 40 percent of the vote to stand a good chance of winning a majority of the 308 seats in Parliament. The Conservatives currently have 125 seats.

Harris-Decima surveyed 1,000 Canadians by phone from January 3 to 6. The poll is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway

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