Analysis: Poll shows Quebec Conservatives ‘are no longer a fringe party,’ says Léger

How to explain the increase in support for a party which has been calling for a relaxation of health measures for months? It’s not just the disruptive truck convoys in Ottawa and Quebec.

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QUEBEC CITY — This is the kind of poll politicians dream of but take wisely with a grain of salt.

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Fueled by a combination of pandemic fatigue and anger over health restrictions – both of which are readily available these days – Quebec’s fledgling Conservative Party woke up on Wednesday to good news in the form of a startling poll. Leger public opinion.

Not only has the party led by Éric Duhaime gained nine percentage points since December, but it has ousted Québec solidaire from third place in terms of voting intentions.

The poll shows that the party is blowing even on the necks of Quebec Liberals, who form the official opposition in the National Assembly and are struggling to find their own electoral niche.

The Conservatives are second behind the Coalition Avenir Québec in the key Francophone vote category. Duhaime, who has led the Conservatives since April 2021, is considered the second best person to be prime minister, just behind François Legault.

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How to explain the increase in support for a party which has been calling for a relaxation of health measures for months? It’s not just the disruptive truck convoys in Ottawa and Quebec.

Duhaime says he doesn’t talk to those people (although he congratulates them on Twitter) and doesn’t want Quebec convoy leader Bernard (Rambo) Gauthier to run.

It’s not just a matter of media exposure. If that were the case, QS would be 10 times more popular, argues Duhaime.

Instead, he believes he has tapped into a new political reality, one that transcends the traditional left-right nationalist spectrum that the CAQ treats so well.

“There are Quebeckers who have suffered enormously, who have felt completely abandoned by the four traditional parties,” Duhaime told reporters on Wednesday. a few hours after the publication of the survey in Le Journal de Montréal.

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“These people were looking for a voice, and we were that voice – the voice of people who suffered because of abusive health measures.”

It’s a change for Duhaime, who used to say his main electoral support rested with disgruntled Quebecers who, like him, voted for the CAQ thinking they would get a more right-wing party committed to ideas. like a leaner government and less debt.

But since its election in 2018, the CAQ has governed from the center rich in votes. The deficit was allowed to skyrocket to pay for the measures taken during the pandemic.

Legault “thought the opposition (for this fall’s election) would come from the left, but in fact it’s coming from the right,” pollster Jean-Marc Léger told the Journal, calling the rise of the Conservatives “significant. “.

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“It is no longer a marginal party. It’s not just a flash in the pan. »

The typical Conservative voter is a male between the ages of 18 and 54.

Léger said the Conservatives “get votes from people who are against the systems, whether they’re left or right. These are all those who are against sanitary measures.

Such upheaval makes party strategists nervous, mainly because angry voters are hard to win over. The Léger poll reveals that the level of satisfaction with the government has dropped by five percentage points since January 19.

That left Duhaime, a former radio host and political strategist, firing on all cylinders. His party’s membership reached 52,000 on Wednesday. The Conservatives beat all other parties in fundraising and promised to field 125 candidates in the general election in October.

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The party is aware that it cannot simply campaign against the pandemic and has other policies in the works.

“I existed politically and in the media before the pandemic, and I will exist after the pandemic,” Duhaime said. “I have enough political experience to know that a lot can happen seven months before an election.

“There is time for support to go up, down and up. The coming months will be a roller coaster.

“The dissatisfied will always be there,” Quebec’s only Conservative MP, Claire Samson, told reporters on Wednesday. “People have long memories.”

The survey certainly caught the attention of other leaders.

“I told you I expected the gap to close,” Legault told reporters as he headed into question period on Wednesday. “I was right. I don’t take anything for granted.”

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While PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said the numbers reflect a polarization in the vote, Liberal leader Dominique Anglade said she saw no reason to panic.

“I believe the real poll will be on October 3,” Anglade said. “What I’m feeling right now is a lot of social tension which is very concerning.”

The first real test of the electorate’s mood will come this spring when voters in the South Shore riding of Marie-Victorin head to the polls in a by-election.

No date has been set for the vote, but growing Conservative support is seen as a key reason Legault has stepped up his plans to drop pandemic measures.

The Léger online poll, conducted from February 11 to 13 among 1,017 adult Quebecers, shows that the CAQ continues to enjoy a good lead in public support with 41%, 21 percentage points ahead of the Quebec Liberals. .

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The Conservatives are at 14%. Québec solidaire voted 12%, two points less than in January, while the PQ’s score has remained unchanged over the past month at 11%.

The poll found that the March 14 date set by the government to drop most pandemic rules was seen as appropriate by 45% of respondents, while 26% felt the government had waited too long and 20% thought that he was moving too fast.

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