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NDP and Conservatives losing ground in Quebec to Liberals

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair walks past the entrance to the Senate after speaking with the media on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, May 22, 2013.


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When they look at the most recent poll numbers, the 57 NDP and five Conservative MPs from Quebec have to wonder: Will I be the one to fall?

Quebec politics have been extremely volatile in recent years, and the results of the latest CROP public opinion poll suggest the province is still in a changing mood when it comes to federal politics, with a number of MPs standing to lose their seats in the next election.

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The Liberal Party is currently in first place in Quebec at 39 per cent, with the NDP in second place at 29 per cent. The Conservative Party is far behind at 9 per cent, with the Bloc Québécois at 18 per cent.

Compared to the 2011 election results, the biggest changes affect the Liberal Party, which is up 25 points, and the NDP, which is down 14 points.

"It's obvious there are New Democrat MPs in jeopardy with these kinds of numbers," said CROP pollster Youri Rivest in an interview. "The NDP is still in a position to win a large number of seats, but maybe not a majority of seats with these kinds of results."

The poll suggests that Justin Trudeau's arrival at the helm of the Liberal Party last April, and the recent controversies that have affected the Conservative brand, have shaken up Quebec politics and herald another shuffling of the 75 seats in the next election (notwithstanding the three news seats that will be added in the upcoming redistribution).

Overall, the CROP poll shows that in current circumstances, many of the sitting MPs from Quebec have to start looking behind their backs, especially in the NDP, while the Liberal Party, with only eight seats in Quebec in the House, can look to the future with optimism.

The CROP poll of 1,000 people was conducted in mid-May through an Internet panel, which does not provide a margin of error.

This poll's numbers are broadly in line with recent results from other pollsters that show the Liberals in the lead in Quebec.

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Mr. Rivest added that the Conservatives "remain weak" in Quebec, but he said the five MPs who won in 2011 are local phenomenons, and that it is hard to predict what will happen to them in the next election.

According to the poll, a majority of respondents chose Mr. Trudeau as the person who would make the best prime minister (31 per cent), slightly ahead of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair (27 per cent). Prime Minister Stephen Harper was far away in the standings, at only 7 per cent.

Still, Mr. Rivest said that Mr. Mulcair is ranking high on key leadership traits – character and competence. He added that Mr. Trudeau's lead is fuelled by his high level of support among females, and that "his image is more fragile than Mr. Mulcair's."

There are other positive findings for the NDP in the poll. In the francophone electorate, which holds a wide sway in a majority of ridings, the NDP leads the Liberal Party by only two point (34 per cent vs 32 per cent). The two federalist parties are well ahead among francophone voters of the Bloc, which stands at only 22 per cent.

"There is no Bloc comeback on the horizon," Mr. Rivest said of the party that currently has five seats in the House.

Asked about the weak Conservative support in Quebec during a recent visit, Mr. Harper made a special pitch to voters in Quebec City, where the Conservatives lost all of their seats at the hand of the NDP in the last election.

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"It's important for this region to have a real voice in Ottawa," Mr. Harper said on Radio-X in Quebec City. "The NDP MPs in this region are invisible."

Daniel Leblanc is a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa.

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