June 1, 2009 / 3:01 PM / 8 years ago

Liberals edge ahead in huge poll

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Liberals have edged ahead of the ruling Conservatives in popular support but not by enough to be sure of winning an election now, according to the largest ever poll conducted in Canada.

<p>Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 13, 2009. REUTERS/Blair Gable</p>

The Ekos survey of almost 11,000 Canadians -- more than 10 times the usual polling size -- put the Liberals at 33.5 percent support and the Conservatives at 32.3 percent.

The results are another indication that despite recent talk of an imminent election, Canadians will not be voting any time soon. The Ekos poll, conducted over three weeks in May for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, was released on Monday.

Under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs to win around 36 percent of the vote to win a minority government and about 40 percent to stand a chance of capturing a majority.

“The overall picture these numbers paint is slightly more positive for the Liberals, who are ahead more days than they lag,” said Ekos President Frank Graves.

“But the situation is clearly quite volatile, and neither party could force an election right now confident they would win, much less form a majority,” he said in a statement.

The Liberals say they are ready to try to bring down the minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Parliament on the grounds that it is not doing enough to help the unemployed.

But to do so they need the support of both the other opposition parties and that looks unlikely.

The leader of the left-leaning New Democrats -- which are on 15.1 percent public support -- said on Sunday he had no plans to move a non-confidence motion in the government before Parliament breaks for its summer recess on June 23.

Ekos said the Liberals had been tied with the Conservatives at the start of last week and then moved slightly ahead later in the week when the government revealed this year’s budget deficit would be much larger than first estimated.

Asked who would make the best prime minister, 30 percent of those polled said Harper while 26 percent chose Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. A full 44 percent said neither.

The Ekos poll of 10,896 adults was carried out between May 7 and 28 and is considered accurate to within 1.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway

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