A new poll shows support for the Liberals took a hit this month while Conservatives failed to find new potential voters, suggesting a possible election after Tuesday's throne speech would result in another minority government.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has endured weeks of party infighting and byelection losses in Quebec.

"Clearly, the Liberals have had huge problems over the last month and as a result their vote has sunk," Tim Woolstencroft, managing partner of the Strategic Counsel, told CTV News.

The Counsel's latest survey was conducted between Oct. 11 and 14 for CTV News and The Globe and Mail.

The poll shows Canada's major parties struggling to gain more support, while continuing to bleed potential votes to the Green Party (percentage-point change from an Aug. 10-12 poll in brackets):

  • Conservatives: 34 per cent (+1)
  • Liberals: 29 per cent (-4)
  • NDP: 15 per cent (-2)
  • Green Party: 12 per cent (+4)
  • Bloc Quebecois: 10 per cent (same)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said his government is seeking a mandate to govern with its throne speech. If the opposition parties accept the speech but later vote against legislation that's part of that mandate, Harper said he'll treat such a vote as a confidence motion.

But even the throne speech may not pass.

Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe has set out five "non-negotiable" demands, including a promise to end Canada's combat operation in Afghanistan by February 2009, that he wants Harper to follow. Otherwise, he said the Bloc will vote against the speech.

Meanwhile, Dion has called on the government to support Bill C-30 on climate change.

Harper needs the support of at least one opposition party for the speech to pass.

The Conservatives currently have 126 seats in Canada's 308-seat Parliament, while the Liberals have 96, the Bloc 49 and the NDP 30 seats. Independents hold three seats and four are vacant.

If an election is called, political analysts have said the Conservatives would need roughly 40 per cent support in order to secure a majority government. But since taking power, the party has never risen past 39 per cent, and has been stuck in the low-to-mid-30s since May.

"They are way better off avoiding an election and continuing to govern as much as possible," said Woolstencroft.

The Conservatives have still made gains in Quebec, where the Liberals have shown a drop in support. The Greens, meanwhile, are now ahead of the NDP in the province (percentage-point change from an Aug. 10-12 poll in brackets):

  • Bloc Quebecois: 37 per cent (same)
  • Conservatives: 26 per cent (+5)
  • Liberals: 17 per cent (-7)
  • Green Party: 12 per cent (+3)
  • NDP: 9 per cent (same)

In vote-rich Ontario, the Liberals continue to maintain their lead over the Conservatives, while the NDP and Greens are now tied (percentage-point change from an Aug. 10-12 poll in brackets):

  • Liberals: 40 per cent (same)
  • Conservatives: 33 per cent (-2)
  • NDP: 14 per cent (-3)
  • Green Party: 14 per cent (+6)

Support for Greens rising

The Green Party has more than doubled its support since the 2006 election, suggesting the party is benefiting from voter discontent with the traditional parties: (percentage-point change from 2006 results in brackets):

  • Conservatives: 34 per cent (-2)
  • Liberals: 29 per cent (-1)
  • NDP: 15 per cent (-3)
  • Bloc Quebecois: 10 per cent (-1)
  • Green Party: 12 per cent (+7)

On Monday, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said her party is ready if the Conservatives trigger an election over the throne speech.

So far, she's the only party leader who has publicly said she wants a fall election.

"This may be naive, but I have faith in democracy," she told reporters in Ottawa.

"Most Canadians do not like Mr. Harper's policies. Most Canadians are desperate for leadership that really speaks to issues and is respectful about them. Most Canadians want a politician who keeps his word, or her word. They don't see that in the Harper government."

May's press conference coincided with the release of her party's 160-page Vision Green, the official six-part policy document.

Technical notes

  • The poll was conducted between Oct. 11 and 14 by The Strategic Counsel for CTV and The Globe and Mail.
  • One thousand respondents were sampled nationally, and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
  • In Quebec, 247 people were sampled with a margin of error of 6.3 percentage points.
  • Results are based on tracking among a proportionate national sample of Canadians 18 years of age or older.

With a report from CTV's Robert Fife and files from The Canadian Press/>