November 6, 2010 / 1:28 AM / in 7 years

Canada's Conservatives ahead in new opinion poll

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s ruling Conservative Party holds a slim lead over its Liberal rivals in an opinion poll released on Friday, but they are far from the support they would need to win a majority government.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa November 2, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The Ipsos Reid poll, conducted for Postmedia newspapers and published on the website of the National Post, put support for the Conservatives at 35 percent compared to 29 percent for the Liberals, Canada’s main opposition party.

That’s barely changed from the results in the 2006 federal election, when the Conservatives won power with a minority government. A party usually needs over 40 percent support to win a majority.

The party still only has a minority of seats in Parliament and needs support from at least one opposition party to stay in power. Many observers expect opposition parties to vote against the government’s budget early next year, forcing a new federal election in the first half of 2011.

The Ipsos Reid poll of 1,000 Canadian voters was conducted November 2-4, in the run-up to a controversial government decision to block the sale of fertilizer giant Potash Corp to Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton.

Industry Minister Tony Clement said he had concluded the sale would not be of net benefit to Canada. But opposition to the sale of a major domestic firm was strong, especially in the province of Saskatchewan where the Conservatives are popular and a decision to approve the sale might have alienated voters.

Controversy over the sale had caused many anxious moments for the Conservatives, whose environment minister quit this week to join one of Canada’s biggest banks.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed John Baird, acting environment minister since Thursday, as Canada’s next environment minister.

Reporting by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Eric Walsh

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