The federal Liberals have the Conservatives locked in a virtual tie for voter support across Canada, a new poll suggests.

The latest Strategic Counsel poll, conducted between April 2 and April 5 for CTV and the Globe and Mail, has the Grits ahead of the governing party by two percentage points, which is within the poll's margin of error.

Pollster Peter Donolo of the Strategic Counsel says the Conservatives should be concerned about the trend line, which firmly shows their support dropping and the Liberals' support growing since January.

"Those are very clear lines and for the Conservatives that's not a positive trend especially given we're in an (economic) environment now that isn't exactly overflowing with good news," Donolo told

The latest results (difference between 2008 federal election results in brackets):

  • Liberals: 34 per cent (+8)
  • Conservatives: 32 per cent (-6)
  • NDP: 15 per cent (-3)
  • Bloc Quebecois: 10 per cent (same)
  • Green Party: 9 per cent (+2)

"Economic downturns make very uncomfortable backdrops for the party in office," Donolo said. "It's natural that (the Conservatives) should be getting a bumpy ride."

The Liberals' voter support has grown a full 10 percentage points since Ignatieff took over the party from the unpopular Stephane Dion in December.

The Grits had dropped to 24 per cent support in early December, after Dion's coalition with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois led to a parliamentary crisis.

The Conservatives continue to poll poorly in Quebec, which analysts blame on two decisions made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year.

In August, Harper said he would cut $45 million in government funding for the arts, citing a lack of caring about the arts among "ordinary people."

This comment proved devastating for Conservative hopes in Quebec in the October federal election.

Harper exacerbated his Quebec problem when his party aggressively slammed the Bloc Quebecois after the election in an effort to turn Canadians off Dion's coalition.

"Mr. Harper had no honeymoon after his election," Donolo said. "Looking at these numbers it's hard to imagine his government was elected with strength only six months ago."

The poll asked 1,000 Canadians what party they would vote for if a federal election were "held tomorrow."

Across the country

In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois remains well out front, but the Liberals are gaining (difference between 2008 federal election results in brackets):

  • Bloc Quebecois: 40 per cent (+3)
  • Liberals: 29 per cent (+5)
  • Conservatives: 15 per cent (-7)
  • NDP: 9 per cent (-3)
  • Green Party: 6 per cent (+2)

In Ontario, where the economic downturn has hit the hardest, the poll shows support swinging to the Liberals. But Donolo says that one shouldn't read too much into the numbers until a few more months pass.

Donolo said one factor that may hurt the Tories, based on other polling, is that the economy is considered a more important factor in voter preference, than in other regions (difference between 2008 federal election results in brackets):

  • Liberals: 45 per cent (+11)
  • Conservatives: 32 per cent (-7)
  • NDP: 15 per cent (-3)
  • Green Party: 9 per cent (same)

In Western Canada, the Liberals continue their improvement under Ignatieff, but still remain far behind the Tories (difference between 2008 federal election results in brackets):

  • Conservatives: 46 per cent (-7)
  • Liberals: 24 per cent (+8)
  • NDP: 19 per cent (-3)
  • Greens: 11 per cent (+2)

Technical notes

  • The Strategic Counsel presents the findings of a national telephone omni survey of 1,000 Canadians
  • Results are based on a random sample of 1,000 adults comprising 500 males and 500 females 18 years of age and older, living in Canada.
  • Interviews were conducted between April 2 and April 5, 2009

Regional and Demographic Breakdowns

Sample size and margin of error:

  • Canada: 1000 - 3.1 per cent
  • Quebec: 243 - 6.2 per cent
  • Rest of Canada: 757 - 3.6 per cent
  • Ontario: 383 - 6.2 per cent
  • West: 300 - 5.1 per cent
  • Note: proportions may not sum to 100% due to rounding