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The Globe and Mail

(Most) Quebeckers are dumping on arena funding

Nordiques fans listens to Quebec mayor Regis Labeaume to announce his desire to build a new hockey arena in the city on Oct.16, 2009.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press/The Canadian Press

Perusing the front page of today's Le Devoir, one finds a headline trumpeting " No on funding for a new arena."

First the good news in the Leger on-line poll of 1,000 Quebeckers, conducted between Sept. 13 and 16:

Fifty-eight per cent oppose Jean Charest's decision to fund a new arena in the provincial capital (of whom 33 per cent are totally and 25 per cent are more or less opposed). Thirty-eight per cent support the decision (of whom 16 per cent are in complete agreement while 22 per cent more or less agree). As to whether Ottawa should match Quebec's funding, 59 per cent are opposed and 37 per cent are in favour.

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Now the bad news:

Quebeckers in the surrounding region are of the opposite view - and more massively so. Seventy-five per cent support the Charest government's decision to fund an arena, and an equal number want Ottawa to match the funding; only 23 per cent oppose the decision.

From the poll results, one understands why the Conservative government would not have shut the door on funding the project, even though this risks enraging the party's base elsewhere in the country. However, in light of the provincial totals - and with fully two thirds of Montrealers opposed - it's less clear why Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae would be parroting the Prime Minister's sympathetic noises, and why Denis Coderre has been even more gung-ho.

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