A majority of Quebecers are unsatisfied with the new Parti Québécois government of Pauline Marois – but they also agree with most of her decisions so far.
This is the conclusion of a new poll from Léger Marketing for Le Journal de Montréal. While the survey found voting intentions have hardly budged since the Sept. 4 election — the PQ leads with 32 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 30 per cent and the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) at 25 per cent — it also shows 56 per cent of Quebecers are unsatisfied with the government, compared to only 37 per cent who say they are satisfied.
What is somewhat confusing about the poll is that, despite such a large proportion of Quebecers saying they are unsatisfied with the government, on the positions the poll addressed people support the PQ government.
The most popular, with 71 per cent saying they are in agreement, is the PQ’s plan to limit contributions to political parties to $100 per person. In the context of the Charbonneau Commission inquiry into corruption, this is hardly surprising.
Perhaps more surprising is that the PQ’s green complexion has wide support: 63 per cent agree with the moratorium on shale gas development, 61 per cent agree with the closing of the Gentilly-2 nuclear plant and 53 per cent agree with the withdrawal of a loan guarantee to an asbestos mine that will effectively kill the industry in the province. All three of these decisions have met with strong criticism from former PQ leader Lucien Bouchard, the Liberal opposition and the federal government.
A majority of Quebecers (55 per cent) also agree with the PQ’s abrogation of the bill that restricted protests. But not every decision related to the student strikes has met with wide approval: 55 per cent disagree with the PQ’s abolition of tuition increases.
The PQ’s reversal on their initial promise to cancel the “health tax” has also been problematic. Fully 62 per cent, including one in three PQ supporters, say the government has managed the issue poorly. However, 61 per cent agree with the government's new plans to make the tax more “progressive” and to increase taxes paid by higher earners.
That Quebecers could look so favourably on most of the major decisions made by the PQ government in its first month in office and yet still be unsatisfied suggests the electorate is highly polarized. Quebecers are ready to admit they like some of what the PQ has already done, but actually supporting the government or intending to vote for the party is another matter entirely.
A status quo in voting intentions will not encourage anyone to pull the plug on the government just yet, but when the Quebec Liberal leadership race comes to a close early next year that reluctance may disappear. Philippe Couillard, the early front-runner to replace Jean Charest, would pull the Liberals into a tie with the PQ at 33 per cent apiece, according to the poll. But if François Legault’s CAQ falls by the wayside — the poll suggests a Marois-Couillard confrontation would push Legault’s party to only 23 per cent support — Pauline Marois may find she has an ally across the aisle.
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.