The Liberals and Parti Québécois are neck-and-neck and it appears Quebecers cannot make up their minds. But with New Democrats enjoying majority support in the province federally, a new Léger poll shows citizens of the province are not as divided as one might think.
Quebec is headed for an election, widely believed to be scheduled for mid-September. Jean Charest will be gunning for his fourth consecutive victory and the numbers indicate he has a good shot. His party narrowly leads the PQ with 33 per cent support to 32 per cent, and he is ahead in and around Montreal and Quebec City.
Though the PQ still has the edge in the rest of the province, the Liberals seem to be closing the gap. This points to a very tight election in a few months’ time.
Not so at the federal level. While Quebecers are split between the Liberals and the PQ (as well as the Coalition Avenir Québec, CAQ, which registered 19 per cent support in the survey), they plumped en masse for the Thomas Mulcair-led New Democrats. Fully 52 per cent of Quebecers would vote for them if an election were held today, enough to potentially secure over 65 of the province’s 75 seats.
While Charest holds a one point edge on the PQ, Mulcair enjoys a 34-point advantage over his nearest competitor. The Bloc Québécois managed only 18 per cent in the poll, though that was still enough to put them in second place. With only 14 and 13 per cent support respectively, the Conservatives and Liberals are well behind.
For the Tories, Quebec is almost a complete write-off. Even Charest scores higher on satisfaction, 26 per cent, than Stephen Harper does in the province. Only 23 per cent of Quebecers are satisfied with Harper's government.
Of course, the Conservatives have another three years to rebuild bridges with Quebecers, whereas Charest has perhaps three months to close the deal. Things are improving for the premier, as 26 per cent of citizens see him as the best option for the top job, a gain of eight points since May. That puts him well ahead of PQ leader Pauline Marois (21 per cent, down two points) and CAQ chief François Legault (19 per cent, down four points).
But Legault is still the most popular politician in the province, with 47 per cent of respondents saying they have a good opinion of him (including 52 per cent of Liberal supporters). That compares favourably to the 34 per cent registered by Marois and the 30 per cent attributed to Charest. Nevertheless, that is a seven point gain for the Liberal leader.
The fundamentals are going in the right direction for Charest. His party’s electoral strategy is to focus on responsibility, competence and stability, contrasting that with “referendums and the street” – what his party says is on offer from the PQ. With Quebecers increasingly seeing Charest as the best option for premier once again he may just be able to pull off another victory.
Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.
What Each Province Gets In Equalization
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equalization_payments_in_Canada#Regional_fiscal_disparities_in_Canada" target="_hplink">Here's how much money each province will receive in equalization payments during the 2013-2014 year.</a> Source: <a href="http://www.fin.gc.ca/fedprov/eqp-eng.asp">Department of Finance</a>. (Alamy)
P.E.I. - $340 Million
Per capita: $2,350 (MICHEL VIATTEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
Nova Scotia - $1.458 Billion
Per capita: $1,342 (Tim BREAKMEIE/AFP/Getty Images)
New Brunswick - $1.513 Billion
Per capita: $1,985 (Luke Pinneo/Getty Images)
Manitoba - $1.792 Billion
Per capita: $1,353 (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jezz/">Flickr: Jezz's Photostream</a>
Ontario - $3.169 Billion
Per capita: $246 (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
Quebec - $7.833 Billion
Per capita: $934 (Alamy)
Newfoundland And Labrador - No Payments
(<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/60548141@N00/" target="_hplink">Flickr: magnolia1000</a>)
B.C. - No Payments
Alberta - No Payments
(MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Saskatchewan - No Payments
(<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/justaprairieboy/">Flickr: Just a Prairie Boy's photostream</a>)
Little-Known Mulcair Facts
Here are some facts you may not have known about NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. (CP)
10. He Used To Be A Liberal
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair was Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks</a> in Jean Charest's Liberal government in Quebec. He served in the role from 2003-2006. (CP)
8. He's French (Kind Of)
Mulcair married Catherine Pinhas in 1976. She was born in France to a Turkish family of Sephardic Jewish descent. <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1158289--thomas-mulcair-s-wife-catherine-a-psychologist-and-political-confidante?bn=1" target="_hplink">Mulcair has French citizenship through his marriage</a>, as do the couple's two sons. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
7. They Used To Be Friends
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair left Charest's Liberal government in Quebec </a>after he was offered the position of Minister of Government Services in 2006, an apparent demotion from Minister of the Environment. Mulcair has said his ouster was related to his opposition to a government plan to transfer land in the Mont Orford provincial park to condo developers. (CP)
6. Ancestor Was Premier Of Quebec
Mulcair's great-great-grandfather on his mother's side was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor%C3%A9_Mercier" target="_hplink">Honoré Mercier, the ninth premier of Quebec</a>. (Public Domain/Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair was the first New Democrat to win a riding in Quebec during a federal election</a>. He held the riding of Outremont during the 2008 election after first winning the seat in a 2007 by-election. Phil Edmonston was the first New Democrat to win a seat in Quebec, but his win came in a 1990 by-election. Robert Toupin was the very first to bring a Quebec seat to the NDP, but he did it in 1986 by crossing the floor. (Alamy)
4. He's Half Irish.
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair's father Harry Donnelly Mulcair was Irish-Canadian</a> and his mother Jeanne French-Canadian. His father spoke to him in English and his mother in French -- explaining his fluency in both official languages. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
3. He Votes In France
Muclair has voted in past French elections, but after becoming leader of the Official Opposition <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1157191" target="_hplink">he said he would not cast a ballot in the French presidential vote</a>. (Thinkstock)
2. Young Love At First Sight
<a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1158289--thomas-mulcair-s-wife-catherine-a-psychologist-and-political-confidante?bn=1" target="_hplink">Mulcair met his future wife at a wedding when they were both teenagers</a>. Catherine was visiting from France. They married two years later when they were both 21. (CP)
1. Mr. Angry
<a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/16/thomas-mulcair-is-mr-angry/" target="_hplink">Mulcair was given the moniker in a Maclean's headline</a>, but the new leader of the NDP has long been known for his short fuse. In 2005, he was fined $95,000 for defamatory comments he made about former PQ minister Yves Duhaime on TV. The comments included French vulgarity and an accusation that alleged influence peddling would land Duhaime in prison.
UP NEXT: Canadian Politicians Who Have Tried Marijuana
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he has had his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/28/rob-ford-marijuana-wynne_n_3831389.html" target="_blank">fair share of marijuana</a>. "Oh, yeah. I've smoked a lot of it."
The federal Liberal leader opened up to HuffPost about his experience with marijuana in August. "Sometimes, I guess, I have gotten a buzz, but other times no. I’m not really crazy about it.”
The Opposition leader's office told HuffPost this summer that Mulcair <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/22/justin-trudeau-marijuana-peter-mackay_n_3797481.html" target="_blank">has smoked in the past</a> but not since he was elected to office. Mulcair was elected to the National Assembly of Quebec in 1994.
Said the <a href="http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v02/n506/a09.html" target="_blank">Tory finance minister</a>: "Yeah, in my teenage years... a couple of times, I have to admit: I didn’t like it."
The Liberal MP and Canada's first astronaut said he tried marijuana as a <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Politics/Power+%26+Politics/ID/2402495133/" target="_blank">student in the 1970s in England. </a> "It's not my thing. I stopped because it wasn't doing anything for me."
The premier of Ontario said she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/28/kathleen-wynne-marijuana-pot_n_3830736.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics" target="_blank">smoked pot decades ago</a>. "I have smoked marijuana but not for the last 35 years."
Said the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/29/darrell-dexter-marijuana-pot_n_3837009.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics" target="_blank">premier of Nova Scotia</a>: "Like every other person I knew back in the '70s when I went to university, some of whom are actually in this room, I would have tried it, the same as other people at that time."
Said the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/01/christy-clark-marijuana-use-pot_n_1469321.html" target="_blank">premier of British Columbia</a>: "I graduated from Burnaby South Senior Secondary in 1983 and there was a lot of that going on when I was in high school and I didn't avoid it all together."
The leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario admitted he's <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/08/18/hudak_admits_to_smoking_pot.html" target="_blank">puffed in the past.</a> "I was a normal kid, I had a normal upbringing, a normal life in university. I experimented from time to time with marijuana. It’s a long time ago in the past and in the grand scheme of things."
The former prime minister of Canada <a href="http://www.ctvnews.ca/" target="_blank">told CTV News</a>: "The answer is: I never smoked. I never smoked anything, but there was an earlier time, years ago, when (my wife) made some brownies and they did have a strange taste."
The former prime minister admitted while running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives that <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/08/22/chris-selley-trudeau-pot-revelation-underscores-one-of-his-few-actual-policy-positions/" target="_blank">she tried weed.</a> "And I inhaled the smoke."
Said the former NDP leader: "Yes, and some might say I never exhaled."
The former premier of Ontario said he <a href="http://www.cfdp.ca/cita99.htm" target="_blank">experimented in his teens</a>, but only twice.
The premier of Saskatchewan said he was an <a href="http://www.canada.com/topics/news/politics/story.html?id=f23471e8-be96-46cf-9c1f-b43d5c497cdd" target="_blank">"infrequent" user back in university.</a> "It didn't really do anything for me, luckily, because for some, it does lead to other things."