Ottawa (AFP) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives are trailing in third place ahead of next month's election, an opinion poll showed Tuesday, as he scrambled to defend his record on the economy and the Syrian migrant crisis.
The leftist New Democrats, who have never before formed a national government, leapt into the lead with 33 percent support, followed by the centrist Liberals at 31 percent.
Support for Harper's Tories meanwhile has fallen to 26 percent, according to the Nanos Research survey of 1,200 Canadians conducted for the daily Globe and Mail and broadcaster CTV.
Pollster Nik Nanos said new data showing Canada entered recession in the first half of the year and the government's arguably muted response to the Syrian refugee crisis had hurt the ruling party's standing.
Ahead of the October 19 ballot, the New Democrats now lead in Quebec and British Columbia provinces, while the Liberals are strong in the easternmost maritime provinces and Ontario -- a key battleground.
The Conservatives, who are seeking a fourth consecutive mandate since 2006, meanwhile, remain the party of choice for voters in the oil-rich western plains provinces.
The Nanos Research survey of 1,200 was conducted on September 4-6 and has a 2.8 percent margin of error.