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Harper's lead plummets to 5 points: Ekos

The Conservative lead over the federal Liberals, which was as high as 15 per cent last October, has sunk to about 5 points, according to a new poll.

"At 33 points – a low not seen since the summer – a majority is a fantasy for the Conservatives for the time being," stated the Ekos release. "Indeed, they are now closer to sitting in opposition than they are to presiding over a majority."

The Ekos poll was conducted on January 4th and 5th, and is the first national survey to be release since Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament until after the 2010 Winter Games.

Two-thirds of Canadians who expressed a preference supported one of the opposition parties. The vote intention results are as follows:

- 33.1% Conservative Party

- 27.8% Liberal Party

- 16.0% New Democratic Party

- 13.4% Green Party

- 9.8% Bloc Quebecois

The Conservatives have lost support among Quebeckers, women and the university educated. Harper continues to enjoy strong support among uneducated males and senior citizens.

"There is no single issue that has dragged down Harper's Conservatives," EKOS President Frank Graves said in the release.

"Certainly the Afghan detainee story got huge play in the media in the weeks before the holidays, and that appeared to put downward pressure on the Tories. However, the decline seemed to have stopped as Parliament headed into recess," Graves continued.

"The government's decision to prorogue Parliament seems to have restarted the pattern of declining Conservative fortunes," he added.

Anti-prorogation rallies are planned for January 23 in at least 31 Canadian cities. And as of Thursday afternoon, more than 87,000 Facebook members had joined the one-week-old protest group, Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament.

The Grits do not appear to be gaining significantly at the Tories expense, however.

"It may be that voters are still punishing the Liberals for their election threat – and their failure to explain why an election was necessary," Graves said. "The NDP and the Greens, meanwhile, are both up since October, so they may be capturing some of the Tory defections."

New Democrats continue to out-poll the Liberals in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia, while remaining neck-and-neck with the Grits in Atlantic Canada.

Green support rose to 13.4 per cent, possibly in reaction to the government's lack of action in Copenhagen.

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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