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Grits, Tories in dead heat

Justin Trudeau's Liberals and Andrew Scheer's Conservatives were running neck-and-neck during warm-up laps for the start of the 40-day federal election campaign, a new poll suggests.

The Leger poll — released just hours before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to fire the starting gun Wednesday — suggests Jagmeet Singh's NDP and Elizabeth May's Greens were also in a dead heat, competing for a distant third place.

It put Conservative support at 35 per cent nationally to the Liberals' 34 per cent — essentially a tie.

The NDP and Greens were also tied at 11 per cent, with Maxime Bernier's fledgling People's Party bringing up the rear with just three per cent.

The poll suggests the Liberals were ahead in Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces that account for almost 60 per cent of the 338 seats up for grabs, but the battle among the smaller parties could ultimately decide which of the two main parties wins the big prize.

In Ontario, support for the Liberals stood at 37 per cent, compared to 31 per cent for the Conservatives, 15 per cent for both the Greens and NDP and two per cent for the People's Party.

In Quebec, the Liberals enjoyed the support of 37 per cent, well ahead of the Conservatives at 22 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois at 21 per cent, the Greens at 10 per cent, the NDP at six per cent and the People's Party at five per cent.

The Liberals were also leading comfortably in Atlantic Canada, with 53 per cent support compared to 28 per cent for the Conservatives, nine per cent for the NDP, seven for the Greens and three for the People's Party.

The Conservatives were the overwhelming favourites in Alberta and Manitoba/Saskatchewan, with 60 per cent and 57 per cent respectively — provinces where they already hold the vast majority of seats.

British Columbia was more of a toss-up, with the Conservatives at 36 per cent, the Liberals at 33, the NDP at 15, the Greens at 10 and the People's Party at four.

Twenty-six per cent of respondents said they're likely to change their minds before election day on Oct. 21, with supporters of smaller parties most likely to shift.

The poll suggests the Liberals still have hope of picking up Green and NDP supporters, although that's somewhat diminished by the fact that the Greens and NDP are now more likely to trade votes.

The national numbers suggest that on the eve of the election call, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives were in position to win a majority of seats and that the Tories, with the least potential for second choice votes, face the hardest climb to get a majority.

Yet, 57 per cent of respondents said they want a change in government and 56 per cent said they want a majority government.

Twenty-five per cent picked Trudeau as the best prime minister and 23 per cent picked Scheer, with just eight per cent choosing May, seven per cent choosing Singh and four per cent choosing Bernier.



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