With Quebec suddenly up for grabs, Conservatives see an opportunity

With Quebec suddenly up for grabs, Conservatives see an opportunity
From CBC - March 14, 2018

In an open letter published inLa Presseon Tuesday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer invited Quebecers to give his party another look, citing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "incompetence" and the "existential crises" crippling the Bloc Qubcois.

The Conservatives spy an opportunity in Quebec. And given the party's growingsupport in the province, they might be right.

Quebec was the only province in which the Conservatives made gains in the 2015 federal election. Their increase in the popular vote there was modestjust 0.2 percentage points, upto 16.7 per centbut their seat haul jumped by seven to 12, the most seats the party has won in Quebec since the days of Brian Mulroney.

Further gains looked doubtful after the Conservatives lost a seat in a byelectionheld in Lac-Saint-Jean in October. But recent polls suggest that the party has seen a boost in support in Quebec over the last few weeks.

The CBC's Poll Tracker, an aggregation of publicly available polling data, puts the Conservatives at 21 per cent in Quebec, an increase of five points since the beginning of the year. That still puts them well behind the Liberalswho lead with 40.7 per centbut it does open up some possibilities for them in parts of the province.

The Poll Tracker model suggests that the Conservatives could see their seat total increase to between 13 and 16 seats at these levels of support, with potential gains being made in Quebec City, the SaguenayLac-Saint-Jean region and the swath of territory lying between Montreal and the provincial capital.

Liberals, Bloc fall as Tories, NDP rise

Despite the Liberals' lead in Quebec, the party has seen its support erode recently. The Liberals are down almost seven points since the beginning of January.

The New Democrats, at 18 per cent, have picked up a couple of points.

The turmoil within the Bloc Qubcois seven of its 10 MPs left caucuslast month in protest over Martine Ouellet's leadershiphas cost that party some of its support. The Bloc has dropped three points in only the past few weeks and is now at 14.2 per cent.

The party was polling as high as 22 per cent in October. Its recent tumble has pushed it from second to fourth placein Quebec.

Scheer's open letter made an appeal both to federalists disappointed with the Liberals and nationalists tired of the Bloc's internal spats. It's virtually the same pitch that Stephen Harper made to Quebecers in the 2006 federal election. Back then, it helped hisparty jumpto 24 per cent support and 10 seats in Quebec after being shut out of the province in 2004.

Scheer made no such pitch to NDP voters. The leap to the Conservatives might be a leap too far for the NDP's remaining supporters in Quebec to makeincluding thosenationalist voters who might be turned off by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh's wearing of religious symbols.

Jumping on the CAQbandwagon?

Scheer's profile in Quebec is still low


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