La Presse is one of Montreal’s major newspapers and is widely considered the French federalist voice in Montreal (as opposed to Le Devoir, which leans separatist) and it had previously endorsed the Liberals almost automatically. But with the sponsorship scandal tarnishing the Liberal name, there’s a feeling now that the Tories may actually make some inroads. I’ve been saying it won’t happen for a long time, and if it does I may have to admit I was wrong and eat my words.
Then again, as they say, the only poll that matters is on election day. I’m still not convinced that this surge in polling numbers is going to translate into seats. And there’s no way the Liberals will be shut out of Quebec – whatever else happens, the Liberal stronghold seats in English Montreal are safe. As for percentages, since polls are not conducted riding-by-riding, there are as many ways to predict how the distribution will break as there are political opinions in Canada. I still believe that the surge in polling for the Conservatives in Quebec will translate into a lot of second-place showings in ridings where the Bloc wins, as opposed to seats. (The Election Prediction Project has the Tories ahead recently for the first time, but too many seats are too close to call to truly predict the outcome).
Nonetheless, with less than a week to go, Stephen Harper has overcome his toughest challenge: fear of a Tory government. With 55% of Canadians saying they believe a Conservative majority is a good idea, it seems that the Liberal attack campaign backfired on itself. And take a closer look at those numbers: the percentage of people who think a Tory majority would be a good idea is highest in Quebec – even higher than it is in Western Canada. (For the record, I’m not among those 55%, but then, regular readers already knew that).
Ontario, of course, remains the key battleground, and if it turns out that people are all talk and no action on election day, then we will be ushering in another Martin government. If Ontario goes blue, however, Stephen Harper should start preparing for his new job as Prime Minister.