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Sports: Robert Libman: CAQ opponents shouldn't take comfort from Léger poll

COVID cases surge, poll shows support for COVID restrictions: In The News for Jan. 11

  COVID cases surge, poll shows support for COVID restrictions: In The News for Jan. 11 In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 11.What we are watching in Canada ...

Premier François Legault smiles during a press conference in Montreal Thursday January 13, 2022. © Provided by The Gazette Premier François Legault smiles during a press conference in Montreal Thursday January 13, 2022.

There’s little more than a week left before the National Assembly reconvenes for its last regular-season session before the next provincial election, in October. The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government is the overwhelming favourite, with another majority seemingly certain, but as in sports, nothing is guaranteed until the final buzzer.

As Robert Bourassa famously said, six months is an eternity in politics. Over the years, there have been many surprising turnarounds and election-day upsets. During the campaign itself — the playoffs — gaffes or momentum shifts can alter the course of events, with startling results. Canadiens fans certainly lived that experience last June.

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Nonetheless, recent events seem to indicate that an upset in the election this year is highly unlikely, for a few reasons that may have been illustrated by the Léger poll published this week .

The prevailing media portrayal of the poll was that it indicated an erosion of CAQ support or was a warning signal to Premier François Legault. I believe, however, it suggests otherwise. Despite everything that has gone on in the past six weeks, with our health-care system reeling from COVID and commentators and the opposition often criticizing the government’s every decision, support for Legault himself remains strong.

And while support for the CAQ has dipped four percentage points since Dec. 2, none of that slippage has gone to the traditional opposition parties busy criticizing Legault on health care. It was largely accounted for in a six-point increase by the upstart Quebec Conservative Party led by flamboyant Quebec City media personality Éric Duhaime. And health care is not Duhaime’s issue. In fact, he is bolstered by anti-vaxxers who bear a large measure of blame for the hospital crisis. He also taps into discontent of anti-maskers, who typically oppose any public health measures.

Slim majority support government lockdowns, restrictions in response to Omicron

  Slim majority support government lockdowns, restrictions in response to Omicron The results suggest there is a growing level of fatigue among Canadians when it comes to lockdowns, including among those who have been fully vaccinated, said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque. “The actual support for vaccination is very high, the perceived efficacy is very high,” Bourque said. “Even among the vaccinated, they're saying: ‘You know what? I'm vaccinated, I've done all I could. Let's just live with it.’”The online survey of 1,547 Canadians was conducted between Jan. 5 and 7. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Duhaime’s support is concentrated in ridings in the Quebec City area, yet the poll indicates that the CAQ still has double the Conservatives’ percentage support in that region. And by the summer months and early fall, the pandemic numbers typically drop off and confinement measures will have been lifted. Without this issue, Duhaime’s party, which has limited resources and organizational legs, will probably run out of steam and his support may flow back to Legault.

The fracturing of the landscape to the left of the CAQ also plays heavily to Legault’s advantage. Despite Legault’s having been in the eye of the COVID storm, 45 per cent of poll respondents said he would make the best premier, more than triple the support for any of the other leaders and more than all four of them combined. Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade, at 13 per cent, seems unable to connect with voters. She claimed this week that if she were heading the government, the situation wouldn’t be as grave and there would have been fewer deaths. But the president of the Quebec Association of Nurses pointed out that our health-care system is still suffering the effects of the Gaétan Barrette reform, by the Liberal government Anglade was part of. Whether it’s the devastating situation in our long-term care institutions (CHSLDs) or the broader state of health care, most Quebecers don’t seem willing to pin blame on Legault for issues that have plagued successive governments. Furthermore, the poll indicates that recent measures proposed by Legault, the anti-vax tax and expanding where vaccination passports are required, have the support of 61 and 67 per cent of Quebecers respectively.

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Despite the predictions of some, the pandemic seems unlikely to negatively affect Legault’s election chances. His opponents must somehow find other ways to dent his Teflon, because at this point, defeating him seems as likely as the Canadiens going on another playoff run.

Robert Libman is an architect and building planning consultant who has served as Equality Party leader and MNA, as mayor of Côte-St-Luc and as a member of the Montreal executive committee. He was a Conservative candidate in the 2015 federal election. twitter.com/robertlibman

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Tories gain support but O'Toole lags Trudeau, Singh as best choice for PM: Poll .
OTTAWA — A new poll suggests the Conservatives are back within striking distance of the Liberals after a slump in support late last year amid internal grumbling about the party's election loss. The Leger poll, conducted Jan. 21-23, pegged Conservative support at 31 per cent, back to the same level of support the party enjoyed before last fall's federal election. Liberal support stood at 34 per cent, down two percentage points from a December survey. Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said this marks the second month in a row in which the Tories have seen small gains after dropping just below 30 per cent last November.

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