Michael Ignatieff's Liberals would eke out a razor-thin minority government, winning 10 more seats than Stephen Harper's Conservatives if an election were held today, a new poll suggests.
Seat projections based on the EKOS survey, released Thursday morning, show the Liberals winning 110 seats compared to 100 for the Tories. The NDP would have 34 seats, down two from current levels.
According to the projection, the Bloc would take 60 of the 75 seats in Quebec, up from the 48 they have now. And the Green Party would win three seats - two in Atlantic Canada and one in British Columbia.
(There are 308 seats in the House of Commons; the Tories currently hold 144 compared to 77 for the Liberals.)
If the national picture isn't bad enough for the Conservatives, the Quebec snapshot is disastrous: Mr. Harper would hold on to only one of the 11 seats his team now occupies in the province.
EKOS pollster Frank Graves says this projection "adds a little frisson" to fall election speculation. A strong showing by the Bloc Quebecois could prove the impetus to go sooner rather than later.
But it takes all three opposition parties to defeat the government. And the Liberal Leader has repeatedly shied away from any election speculation.
At his summer caucus retreat in Nova Scotia this week, Mr. Ignatieff said he wants to keep working in Parliament, noting he did not hear election talk from Canadians during his cross-country summer bus tour.
The seat projection are based on Mr. Graves's polling data from the week of Aug. 25-31, the last week of his two-week survey. Using data from just one week - a smaller sample size - makes the predictions more unstable.
Mr. Graves notes that the results may "raise eyebrows," especially given the Green seat projections. He says the picture will become clearer over the coming month.
His projections for the entire two-week poll tell a slightly different story. Using the bigger sample size - 3,559 Canadians - Mr. Graves projects 117 seats for the Conservatives, 93 seats for the Liberals, 37 seats for the NDP would have 60 seats for the Bloc. The Greens would have none.
"More and more it appears that clear majorities are elusive in advanced western democracies with parliamentary systems of government," Mr. Graves surmises, noting Australia's hung Parliament after its election last month.