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While Stephen Harper makes his case on the world stage this week for economic recovery and reform, a new national opinion poll shows his party's support slipping back home, falling well short of their hoped-for majority government.

In fact, the new EKOS poll is not a good one for the Michael Ignatieff Liberals either - making this poll a "classic feel bad" poll for the two main political parties, says EKOS's Frank Graves.

For the past couple of weeks the Harper Tories have enjoyed an almost 10 point lead over Ignatieff's Liberals and while they are still stuck at 26.2 per cent, the Tories have fallen to 31.7 per cent, according to today's survey.

"This shift, while modest, puts the government in a considerably less comfortable position than they were," says EKOS pollster Frank Graves. "They are now well short of their last election results and visions of a majority, which were beginning to form, are again looking implausible."

The NDP are at 17.4 per cent compared to the Green Party at 11.5 per cent. The Bloc Quebecois, meanwhile, is polling at 10.3 per cent.

The poll of 2,827 Canadians was conducted between May 26 and June 1; it has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Mr. Graves has no firm explanation for the Tory slip, surmising that it could be the partly the result of the release of the Oliphant Commission report into the business dealings of former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and defence lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber.

Mr. Mulroney was found to have conducted himself inappropriately in his dealings with Mr. Schreiber.

"Oliphant may be a stretch," says Mr. Graves, in explaining the new numbers. "But it is sort of an antidote to the by rote mention of sponsorship problems the CPC uses to remind voters of their ethical higher ground."

He is referring to the Liberal sponsorship scandal, which the Tories love to remind the Liberals of.

The poll, however, may simply show that the Conservatives are returning to their base of the last five months, which is around 32 or 33 points, says Mr. Graves.

The Liberals, meanwhile, he notes must be "deeply disturbed by their continued presence in the 26 point territory …," he says.



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