Is the values charter the Parti Quebecois’ ticket to a majority?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

You might be getting a little dizzy watching the polling numbers in the province of Quebec — from month to month, they're all over the place.

There is however, one consistent thing about them: It seems that whenever the values charter is a hot topic in the media, the separatist Parti Quebecois go up in the polls.

The latest Leger study certainly points to a direct correlation.

According to the poll, released on Monday, 36 per cent of Quebecers surveyed would vote for the PQ while 33 per cent would vote Liberal. Because of the geographic distribution of votes, that would be enough for Pauline Marois' government to earn a majority.

"This is the first time that the PQ is mathematically in position to win a majority government since their election in fall 2012," Leger vice-president Christian Bourque said, according to QMI Agency.

[ Related: PQ secure in putting its political future at risk over controversial values charter ]

In May 2013, a Leger Marketing poll, conducted exclusively for QMI, suggested that Marois' PQ were eight points behind the Liberals.

Then, in the summer, the PQ indicated that they would introduce a Values Charter which would essentially ban public employees from wearing religious symbols in public institutions.

While the charter has spurred controversy across the country, it buoyed the PQ in the opinion polls. According to Le Devoir, a Leger poll released in September claimed that the governing party was just four percentage points behind the opposition Liberals: the Liberals had 36 (-2) per cent support while the PQ sat at 32 (+5) per cent.

As the chatter chatter died down in the fall, an Angus Reid popular premier poll — conducted in December — suggested that Marois' popularity was declining.

And now, with the on-set of the public consultations into the charter, the PQ is back on top.


The political analysts don't think so.

"We saw [Marois with a] 27 per cent [approval rating in] June of last year. And then we saw the introduction of the Quebec charter and all the talk around that," Angus Reid's Shachi Kurl told Yahoo Canada News in a telephone interview last week.

"And while English Canada really saw it as...horrifying, it was a really good wedge issue for Madame Marois' base so her numbers came way up [in September]."

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York University political scientist Bruce Hicks says that their are many factors buoying the PQ turnaround but that the values charter is an important one.

"When we're looking at Quebecers opinions on the charter, their seems to be an attractiveness to it," Hicks told the Montreal Gazette as part of their audio podcast series.

"When they leaked the idea of the charter [last summer], they were suddenly seeing numbers they liked where it had traction in rural Quebec, it had traction with Francophones, it split the new immigrant it was giving them numbers they wanted.

"Now, when they actually unveiled it, it didn't seem to translate right away. But now we're talking more and more about it. It is capturing people's attention."

If the PQ strategists believes these polling numbers are accurate, expect a Quebec election sooner than later — the PQ could even make the charter their primary election issue.

And it that's the case, heed these words from Sun News analyst and Liberal insider Warren Kinsella: "If (a) this [poll] is accurate and (b) it holds up, get ready for a lot of long-[term] instability and chaos, folks."

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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