02/04/2013 12:20 EST | Updated 04/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Corruption commission gives hope to 54% of Quebecers polled

About half of Quebecers surveyed believe the Charbonneau corruption commission will help clean up municipal politics, according to a CROP poll commissioned by Radio-Canada.

Of those surveyed, 54 per cent replied "yes" to the question: "Do you believe the Charbonneau commission will improve municipal government practices?"

Caroline Patsias, a professor in the department of political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQÀM), said the poll's results suggest the population is cynical about representative democracy.

Patsias said this cynicism is partly fed by witness testimony given at the commission.

"A commission does not really have the power to change things …," she said. "If we take the question to the next level — will the Charbonneau commission effect direct change — no."

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum has acknowledged the public's faith in elected officials is lacking, but he says he is taking steps to improve the situation.

Earlier in January, Applebaum announced the creation of a special integrity squad to combat corruption at city hall. He said the squad will have carte blanche to investigate all city transactions, including real estate.

"I think we're headed in the right direction," he said. "I think with time we will be able to show that elected officials are here to respond to the public's needs and to work in the best interest of the population."

Despite the poll's findings, Municipal Affairs Minister Sylvain Gaudreault said he thinks the Charbonneau commission's findings will make a difference.

"I have the hope that we will restore confidence," he said. "I am an optimist. I want us to fight against cynicism."

The survey results are based on a poll taken between Jan. 16 and 21. In total, 1,000 completed the online questionnaire.

Because of a weighting system used by the polling company — which was used to reflect Quebec's adult population — the margin of error cannot be calculated for this poll.