least positively viewed were federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion with a 58 per cent negative reading and Prime Minister Stephen Harper with 51 per cent. On the positive side, Harper's 47 per cent reading put him in 13th place overall, well ahead of Dion's 35 per cent that left him in 22nd place.
There is good news for the New Democratic Party and its campaign in the Outremont by-election. Not only is NDP leader Jack Layton ninth among favoured political figures, but former Liberal minister and now NDP candidate in Outremont Tom Mulcair ranks close behind in 11th place with a 47 per cent positive reading.
Another poll, on best Prime Minister:
Stephen Harper continues to lead among federal leaders with 26 per cent of respondents preferring him as prime minister to 18 per cent for New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, 14 per cent for the Bloc's Gilles Duceppe and a mere nine per cent for Liberal leader Stéphane Dion (seven per cent among francophone respondents).
Could Dion recover from such disastrous numbers?
I suppose the good news, the second poll puts the Liberals in a virtual deadheat with the Conservatives, although support is very weak with francophones. If you put down the partisan lens, there is something objectively wrong about a francophone leader of the Liberal Party badly trailing the leader of the no-seat NDP, not to mention their star candidate in Outremont. "Disastrous" is a reasonable term, admitting you have a serious problem half the battle.
What I find frustrating, you get no sense whatsoever that the Liberal Party comprehends the need to change the landscape. There is no sense of urgency, the status quo rules, comforted by history and Harper's politics. What exactly is the Liberal strategy in Quebec, to win back francophones and present a fresh vision of federalism?
I mentioned this before, but at the very least the Liberals need to re-package themselves, develop some new language, accomodations and balance. You get the sense from Quebecers that the Liberals aren't even in the game, irrelevant to the discussion, outside of a few supposed "strongholds", which look weaker by the minute. The Liberals need to adopt a high-profile message, that tells Quebecers that the party has actually moved beyond the Trudeau era, because clearly the internal discussions have moved forward. I'm not suggesting the party abandon its strong federalist roots, but it is beyond obvious that the terminology needs an update. There are ways to acknowledge more autonomy, while simulatenously articulating ways to work together and weave, which results in a net neutral in terms of "power sharing".
Liberals have lost touch with mainstream Quebec, the choice is either stubborn traditionalism and further marginalization, or pragmatism and viability. What we see now is the equivalent of passive submission, trying to "hang on", as opposed to resonating. Where is the effort to re-frame Dion, a concerted effort to meet the negative opinion head-on? It is pathetic and unacceptable for a francophone leader to poll a distant fourth in his home province. It would be nice to get the sense of crisis, as opposed to the timid, the glass is half full approach. In reality, the glass is empty and thirsty people are looking elsewhere to wet their pallet.