Whether it's due to "the Mulcair effect" or his out-front position against Canada's military mission to Afghanistan is unclear, but NDP leader Jack Layton is on a roll in Montreal, a new opinion poll suggests.
Montreal was the only place in the country where Layton wins when respondents were asked who would make the country's best prime minister, said Derek Leebosh, a senior associate with Environics Research Group, which conducted the survey.
Among Montrealers polled, Layton scored 24 per cent, compared with 19 per cent for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 16 per cent for Bloc Qubcois leader Gilles Duceppe and 12 per cent for Liberal leader Stephane Dion
In Quebec, the Bloc was at 31 per cent, down a healthy 11 percentage points from its level of support in the January 2006 federal election. The Liberals were pegged at 17 per cent in Quebec, down three from the last Environics poll conducted in March, while the Tories sat at 28 per cent, up two percentage points from the last poll and 3 points higher than they scored in the election. The NDP nudged up to 12 per cent from 11 in the last poll and the Green Party moved up 2 percentage points to 11 in Quebec. The undecided rate was pegged at 10 per cent.
The poll surveyed 2,021 Canadians across the country for a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points 95 times out of 100. The Quebec sample was 500 people for a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, while the Montreal sample was 217 respondents for a margin of 6.7 percentage points.
Why the surge in Montreal?:
Layton's newfound strength in Montreal is "probably a result of two things," Leebosh said. "It might be the Mulcair effect (former provincial Liberal environment minister Tom Mulcair is the NDP's star candidate in the soon-to-be announced Outremont by-election) but also the city may be more left-wing than the rest of the province" which suggests dispirited Bloc and Liberal voters may be turning to the NDP in the urban area.
"The Tories (at 17 per cent) are still so much lower in Montreal than in the rest of the province," Leebosh said. "If the Bloc Quebecois were to vanish tomorrow, the NDP would have tremendous potential in Montreal."
I don't claim to have intimate knowledge of the "street" in Quebec, but I think it is fair to say that Layton and Mulcair have been receiving a nice wave of coverage in the province. I have also heard some grumblings about Mulcair, but all in all, he has done a great job of getting in front of the media and creating a certain buzz. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the Liberals are on the ropes in Quebec and this by-election could well prove to be a watershed moment, that has lasting impact, unusual for a simple by-election.