September 17, 2009 / 2:50 PM / in 8 years

Conservatives extend poll lead

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s ruling Conservatives have slightly extended their lead over the main opposition party and stand a good chance of retaining power if an election were held now, according to a poll published on Thursday.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa September 14, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. put the Conservatives on 35.1 percent, up from 34.2 percent the previous week. The official opposition Liberals dropped to 29.9 percent from 30.8 percent.

The results was in line with a number of other surveys that showed Conservatives pulling away from their rivals in the wake of a threat by the Liberals earlier this month to bring down the minority government as soon as possible. Canada’s last election was in October 2008.

The left-leaning New Democrats were up to 16.5 percent from 14.8 percent, in contrast to other polls which have shown support for the party dropping steadily.

The New Democrats hinted on Wednesday they would support the Conservatives on a non-confidence motion expected next month, thereby staving off the threat of an election until 2010.

Under Canada’s electoral system -- where the candidate with the most votes in each constituency wins -- a party needs around 40 percent support to win a majority and 36 percent to win a minority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

The Ekos automated telephone survey of 2,703 adult voters was conducted between September 9 and 15 and is considered accurate to within 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Janet Guttsman

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