OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservatives and the main opposition Liberal Party are virtually tied, and an election now would most likely result in deadlock, according to a poll released on Wednesday.
The Harris-Decima survey for the Canadian Press put the Conservatives at 32 percent in public support, with the Liberals at 31 percent. The left-leaning New Democrats had 15 percent.
It was the latest in a series of recent polls to show the Conservatives -- who two months ago were up to 15 percentage points ahead of the Liberals -- now in a dead heat with their main rivals.
Support for the government began to slide sharply last month after Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to have Parliament suspended for two months so he could “recalibrate” his agenda.
Harris-Decima pollster Allan Gregg told Canadian Press that voters still appeared to be upset by the suspension and were paying little attention to the government’s speedy response to the Haitian earthquake.
Under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 36 percent of the vote to win a minority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives won a strengthened minority in October 2008, but still need the support of at least one opposition party to stay in power. Harper says neither he nor the Canadian public wants an election now.
The Harris-Decima poll of 1,000 adults was carried out between Jan 21 and 24 and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson