February 16, 2010 / 7:07 PM / in 8 years

Canada poll gives Conservatives small lead

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Conservatives have gained a slight advantage over the main opposition Liberal Party in public support, but not enough to win a majority in an election, according to a new poll released on Tuesday.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (L) and Haiti's President Rene Preval hold a joint news conference after bilateral talks at the airport outside Port-au-Prince February 15, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Chartrand/Pool</p>

The Harris-Decima poll for the Canadian Press put the Conservatives at 32 percent support, unchanged from a survey done by the same firm in late January. The Liberals dropped 2 percentage points to 30 percent, while the left-leaning New Democrats were at 16 percent.

The Conservatives won a strengthened minority in October 2008, but still need the support in Parliament of at least one opposition party to stay in power.

The Conservatives, who had been as much as 15 points ahead last autumn, saw their support fall away after Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to have Parliament suspended for two months in late December.

Under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party needs around 36 percent of the vote to win a workable minority.

Harper, in Haiti on Tuesday to discuss reconstruction efforts, says neither he nor the Canadian public wants an election now.

The Harris-Decima poll of 4,000 adults was carried out between Feb 4 and 14 and is considered accurate to within 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Frank McGurty

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