February 17, 2011 / 7:08 PM / in 7 years

New poll gives Conservatives strong lead

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s ruling Conservatives took a strong lead in an opinion poll released on Monday, ahead of a March budget that will be the government’s next big test.

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The Ipsos Reid survey, summarized on the website of Canada’s National Post newspaper, said 39 percent of voters supported the Conservatives, who have only a minority of seats in Parliament and need support of at least one opposition party to stay in power.

The Liberals, the second largest party, had the support of 25 percent of voters.

The previous Ipsos Reid poll last month put support at 34 percent for the Conservatives and 29 percent for the Liberals.

The government’s next major test will come after it produces its next budget, probably in late March. If opposition parties combine to vote that down, the government falls and there is a new election.

“We’ve seen this before,” pollster Darrell Bricker told the newspaper. “The more people talk about elections, the more it seems to move in favor of the government.”

Ipsos Reid polled 1,001 Canadian voters between February 8 and Feb 10. It considers its results accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 95 percent of the time.

Reporting by Janet Guttsman

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