September 18, 2008 / 12:41 PM / 9 years ago

Conservatives outgun separatists in Quebec poll

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The separatist Bloc Quebecois is struggling ahead of an October 14 federal election in Canada and the party is now in second place behind the ruling Conservatives, according to a poll released on Thursday.

<p>Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe gets off his campaign bus during a stop at the Western Festival in St-Tite September 13, 2008. The separatist Bloc is struggling ahead of an October 14 federal election in Canada and the party is now in second place behind the ruling Conservatives, according to a poll released on Thursday. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger</p>

The Leger Marketing survey for the Journal de Montreal put support for the Conservatives in French-speaking Quebec at 34 percent, up from 30 percent two weeks ago.

Support for the Bloc, which holds most of Quebec’s 75 seats, rose by two points to 32 percent.

The survey suggests that the Conservatives are well placed to make major gains in Quebec -- Canada’s second-most populous province -- which could put them on a road to a Parliamentary majority. The party now has 11 of Quebec’s 75 seats.

In the January 2006 election, the Bloc took 42 percent of the Quebec vote and the Conservatives only 25 percent.

The official opposition Liberals, who lost power nationally in 2006 over a kickback scandal in Quebec, were down three points in the survey at 20 percent.

“The race remains very close, within the margin of error, but it is clear the Conservatives continue to move forward,” the newspaper quoted pollster Christian Bourque as saying.

Most previous polls had had the Conservatives slightly behind the Bloc.

There is increasing disillusionment among separatists with the Bloc, which was created 18 years ago as the federal wing of the Quebec independence movement.

In recent years it has changed its focus from the fight for independence to representing Quebec’s interests, a development that angered hard-line separatists. In the past week a leading member of the secessionist camp and five former Bloc members of Parliament complained the party had lost its way.

The Leger Marketing survey of 1,001 adults was conducted between Sept 12 and 16 and is considered to be accurate within 3.4 percent, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Janet Guttsman

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