Tucked away on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, off the island of Montreal, the La Prairie suburban promenade may be Quebec’s best electoral landmark.
In the last three elections, the cities that make up the horse riding have elected deputies from three different parties: the NDP in 2011, the Liberals in 2015 and the Bloc Québécois in 2019.
It is something of a microcosm of Quebec as a whole, possibly the most volatile constituency of any province.
“When it comes to federal elections, Quebecers are very much the kings and queens of strategic voting,” says Christian Bourque of the Léger polling company.
According to a Léger poll of Quebec voters released Tuesday, the Liberals hold about 34 percent of the vote, while the Bloc Québécois lags behind at 30, the Conservatives at 19 and the NDP at 10.
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While there has been a conservative resurgence in polls at the national level, that hasn’t happened in Quebec, where polls have been relatively flat, but that could be changing.
After spending the first weeks of the federal election campaign as a spectator, Quebec Prime Minister François Legault joined last week and hopes to make a splash.
Legault is telling his supporters to avoid the NDP, the Green Party and the Liberals, saying his speech of stepping on provincial jurisdictions is dangerous.
“Now we have three leaders who propose to enter the jurisdiction of Quebec. We have three leaders who say they can oppose Bill 21 in court, three leaders who are not ready to give us more responsibility for choosing new immigrants, ”Legault said last week.
Legault is pressuring Quebec nationalists to vote for the Conservative Party. The Bloc Québécois, he says, cannot form a government.
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Political scientist Daniel Béland says the prime minister’s support may be a morale boost for Erin O’Toole’s troops, but says it may not translate into seats. They may have started the campaign too far back.
“The question now is whether the voters of CAQ (Coalition Avenir Quebec) will really side with what the prime minister said, or will they follow their own minds,” says Béland.
“I think we will have to monitor the polls very closely in the last few days before the vote to see if this is having an effect.”
Even after Legault’s criticism, leaders of the party he persecuted have avoided responding in kind, not for fear of angering the prime minister, but in case he discourages his supporters. Legault isn’t just one of the most popular releases in the country. It is one of the most popular of all time.
“Over the last 15 months, he’s had an approval rating close to 80 percent, which we’ve never seen,” says Bourque.
Leaders Defend Quebecers As Questions About Discrimination Raise After Debate
The other wild card over the past week was the debate from the English-language leaders and a controversial question from moderator Shachi Kurl, chairman of Angus Reid.
“You denied that Quebec has a problem with racism, but you defend laws like bills 96 and 21 that marginalize religious minorities, Anglophones and allophones. Quebec is recognized as a distinct society, but for those outside the province, help them understand why their party also supports these discriminatory laws, “Kurl asked the Bloc leader, Yves-François Blanchet.
Legault called the question an attack on the nation of Quebec, while liberal leader Justin Trudeau said it was neither acceptable nor appropriate for debate.
“As a Quebecer, I found that question really offensive,” Trudeau said Friday while campaigning in Hamilton.
The controversial question of Quebec in the English debate of the federal leaders
The emotional reaction seems to have given Bloc Québécois a leap in the polls. It is up a little over three percent since the debate.
The only problem with the Bill 21 question is how our leaders responded
The problem may not go away either. On Tuesday, the Quebec National Assembly adopted a unanimous motion asking for a formal apology from the Debate Broadcast Group that organized the debate.
“We call for an end to the Quebec attack, a phenomenon that hinders the proper functioning of the Canadian federation and that seeks to negatively generalize sensitive issues,” the motion reads.
A copy of the motion will be sent to the members of the broadcaster consortium, including Global News.
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