Current Affairs Politics

Polling The Future

Following on from yesterday’s post about the effects of the right-wing policies of Canada’s Tory-led federal government on the separatist-inclined province (or should it now be nation?) of Québec, some more news on recent polls there. With provincial elections in Québec expected before the end of 2013 or earlier, the province’s government, currently in the hands of the federalist (or as we would say, unionist) Liberal Party, may pass into the control of the nationalist Parti Québécois (PQ), albeit with a narrow majority or in coalition with other Francophone groupings in the regional assembly.

However nothing is certain and the turbulence in Québec politics witnessed over the last twelve months has only recently abated. From The Globe and Mail:

““Dogged by student strikes and the looming inquiry into construction-industry corruption, [Liberal Party premier in Québec] Jean Charest is nevertheless in a neck-and-neck battle with the Parti Québécois as the remaining lifespan of his government can be counted in months.

According to ThreeHundredEight.com’s seat and vote projection model, the Parti Québécois currently holds a narrow lead over the Quebec Liberals with 33.1 per cent to 32 per cent support. While this represents a significant gain for both parties since the end of February, with the PQ picking up 3.7 points and the Liberals three, it is a far closer race than was recorded by the polls only a few weeks ago.

Throughout March and the first half of April, the PQ was averaging a lead of almost seven points over the Liberals. A remarkable turnaround after almost a year of being on the brink of catastrophe, the PQ was on track to form the province’s next government with a majority. But with current levels of support, Pauline Marois [PQ leader] would have a tough battle just to land a minority.

François Legault’s Coalition-Avenir-Québec has dropped 6.8 points since the end of February and trails in third with 20.4 per cent support, though some recent polls show that the right-of-centre party might have a little more life left in it.

Québec Solidaire stands at 7.5 per cent while the provincial Greens are projected to have 3.9 per cent support. Other parties, including the hard-line sovereigntist Option Nationale, pull together 3.2 per cent support.

Based on these numbers, the Parti Québécois would likely win 60 seats in the 125-seat National Assembly, putting it three seats short of an outright majority. The Liberals would win 53 seats, down 11 from their current crop of MNAs, while the CAQ would win 10 seats and Québec Solidaire two.

A close result like this has the potential to make for a complicated post-election period. Both the Liberals and PQ could look to the CAQ for support in order to govern, while if the PQ and Québec Solidaire, both left-of-centre sovereigntist parties, managed to win an extra seat or two they alone could command a majority of seats.

Political support in Quebec has swung widely for the last 12 months, ever since the New Democrats demolished the Bloc [Bloc Québécois, the nationalist party at the federal level] and the PQ’s internal troubles sent them on a downward spiral (which only reversed itself earlier this year). The CAQ has gone from the government-in-waiting to also-ran and now to kingmaker status. Through it all, the provincial Liberals have staggered from crisis to crisis. Jean Charest has been waiting for an opportune moment to call an election, but with things so tumultuous in the province there is no telling which way the wind will blow when the next window opens.”

Meanwhile the National Post has some very interesting letters from a host of readers debating the merits, or otherwise, of Québec independence, or the breakup of the Canadian federation if you prefer (thanks to Laurent Desbois for the heads-up and link to the video featured below). Some pretty blunt stuff here, and quite a bit of it spells out the nastiness that lurks underneath the great debate in Canada (particularly it must be said on the federalist or unionist side: that is from Canadian Nationalists), but a few perceptive thoughts too. And here is a familiar one for Irish readers (and now some Scottish ones, too):

“Provided the conditions of the Clarity Act are met, some areas of Quebec may be allowed to secede from Canada. However, the majority of Quebec’s current landmass was added to the province by the British Crown long after New France/Quebec was ceded to Britain by France in 1763. These lands would certainly stay in Canada, as would other regions where federalist votes prevail. The issue is not the separation of Quebec, but its partition.

Michael Peacocke, Ottawa.”

And this:

“I’m not sure that a velvet divorce is in Canada’s future but more in all likelihood would be a rocky divorce. So let’s get on with it as Canada’s and Quebec’s future would best be served just like what happened with Czechoslovakia. Canada should keep the mostly English south shore and Quebec would get Baffin Island in return? Wouldn’t be nice not to be a bilingual (questionable) nation any longer as they will always be 95% socialist and we just 15%.

Charles Steele, Vineland Ont.”

Troubles ahead?

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