Premier Christy Clark has extended her party's lead over the NDP to five per cent, according to a new poll of B.C. voters.
The poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion found 43 per cent of voters were likely to vote for the B.C. Liberals, compared to 38 per cent favouring the NDP. That's an increase of two per cent since the company's February poll.
The B.C. Green Party was a distant third with 10 per cent support, followed by the still-leaderless B.C. Conservatives at five per cent. Clark has indicated she favours an early election, which could come later this year.
According to Angus Reid's monthly surveys, the B.C. Liberals' biggest jump came last December after former premier Gordon Campbell announced he was retiring. The governing party rose 10 per cent to tie with the NDP at 36 per cent support, then crept up from there to its current slim lead.
Respondents were also asked about the NDP leadership candidates and their intentions for the upcoming referendum on the harmonized sales tax. One third of respondents said they would vote to keep the HST, while a majority of 54 per cent said they will abolish it.
The poll comes as the five candidates to succeed Carole James as NDP leader continue a province-wide debate tour leading up to a party vote set for April 17. Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth remains the most popular choice for the next leader of the NDP.
The online survey asked 807 B.C. residents which candidates would be a "good choice" to lead the NDP. Farnworth was endorsed by 43 per cent of participants. Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix was second, with 27 per cent.
Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan was a distant third, followed by marijuana activist Dana Larsen and Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons.
The NDP debates are organized around themes. They started with education in Surrey March 20, followed by justice in Kelowna March 21 and poverty in Kamloops March 22.
The theme is families for March 24 in Nelson, health care March 29 in Qualicum, youth on March 31 in Victoria, environmental sustainability April 2 in Vancouver, energy April 4 in Prince George and jobs April 6 in Terrace.