POLL OF THE DAY:
An absolutely massive Léger Marketing poll of Quebec (over 3,600 respondents) suggests the Bloc Québécois has found its footing just as the Conservatives have started to slip. Sure, the Bloc remains well off its 51-seat pace from the 2006 election, and the Conservatives have managed to narrow what was then a 17-point gap between the two parties. But the once-moribund Bloc has a definite spring in its step these days, as it seems to have (temporarily, at least) left its crippling existential crisis behind.
Bloc Québécois: 33%
Stephen Harper, on his heightened expectations for his party: “I say we need a strong mandate. I could say a stronger mandate. What we have seen increasingly is the other parties working together, and certainly all articulating a direction for the Canadian economy that would be totally different than this government and that has me very worried obviously about the pressure that they could bring to bear.”
Stéphane Dion, to Stephen Harper, on the Conservatives’ reluctance to repatriate Omar Khadr: “Why are you more pro-Bush than John McCain?”
Jack Layton, on how he plans to pay for the promises in the NDP program: “I will cancel [Harper’s] $50-billion tax giveaway to corporations.”
Elizabeth May, on her suggestion stopping Harper was the Greens’ first priority in the election: “As I have said time and again, including all during this train tour, strategic voting does not make sense. On top of that, there is no possibility of a deal with any of the other parties.”
Gilles Duceppe, on the possibility the Conservatives might win a majority without making further inroads into Quebec: “In several areas, the two solitudes are a matter of fact. It was true before, it’s true during, and it will remain true after the election.”
GAFFE OF THE DAY:
Even though they’re inching closer to a majority thanks to the momentum they’ve built up in the rest of the country, the Tories appear to have stalled in Quebec. Worse still, a suddenly re-energized Bloc Québécois is now legitimately threatening to keep Stephen Harper from getting the majority he craves. As Lysiane Gagnon points out in today’s Globe and Mail, two major policy announcements by the Tories have sent voters rushing into Gilles Duceppe’s open arms: the cuts to cultural programs, and the push to have offenders as young as 14 serving prison sentences among adults. Fair or not, the perception of a dastardly “hidden agenda” containing all manner of right-wing nonsense is starting to stick to the Tories in Quebec.
WHERE THEY’RE AT TODAY:
Stéphane Dion is in Ottawa for an appearance at a local community college.
Jack Layton is in Toronto to make an announcement on public transit.