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Canada's ruling party drops to third in ratings

A poll released Wednesday showed Canada's leftist New Democratic Party to be the most popular federal party while the ruling Progressive Conservatives remain at a record low. The Gallup poll, published in the Toronto Star, said the New Democrats were supported by 38 percent of decided voters, up six points from last month, while Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's Conservatives remained a distant third with 15 percent, unchanged from a month ago. The Liberals were second with 31 percent.

The Conservatives have been hurt by efforts to push through an unpopular consumption tax. Mulroney must call an election within three years.

The New Democrats have never held power at the federal level but in September scored a major breakthrough by winning a majority government in the Ontario.

Immigration to rise

OTTAWA _ The Canadian government is seeking a 50 percent increase in immigration over the next five years.

Immigration Minister Barbara McDougall will unveil the plan today that calls for an increase to about 250,000 people a year.