The Conservatives made inroads in Quebec with its Cabinet shuffle last Tuesday, according to a new poll by Innovative Research Group for The Hill Times, which shows that, as a result of the shuffle, Quebecers are twice as likely to be more favourable to the government than the rest of Canada.
"What we see is that in Quebec, the shuffle's being seen more positively than in the rest of Canada.... It isn't a political earthquake, but it is a tremor, and it does suggest for the first time in a while some momentum for the Conservatives in Quebec."
The poll also found that although Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) Cabinet shuffle made no difference in favour for his government with 55 per cent of respondents, but 20 per cent said they are more favourable. Mr. Lyle said this is partly because of Mr. Harper's decision to move former industry minister Maxime Bernier (Beauce, Que.) into the foreign affairs portfolio, and former international cooperation minister Josée Verner (Louis-Saint Laurent, Que.) into the Canadian heritage file. In Quebec, the moves for the Quebec ministers are supported not only by Tories, but "it's creeping into groups like the Bloc," Mr. Lyle said.
The poll really tells us the obvious, of course Quebecers would react positively to changes which raise Quebec's profile in cabinet. It is a stretch to say this poll is indicative of increased support, but more correctly an admission that Harper has been afforded a measure of good will, as a result of the moves. Whether or not this translates to voter intention remains to be seen, and any favorable uptick could be temporary.
The other poll, released by the Financial Post, which canvasses business leaders and CEO's is objectively irrelevant:
Stephen Harper received a passing grade from chief executives and other Canadian business leaders for last week's Cabinet shuffle, according to a National Post/ COMPAS Inc. poll.
The Prime Minister received a "moderately strong" performance score of 63% for the shuffle that included moving Peter MacKay to the National Defence portfolio.
The transfer of Mr. MacKay from Foreign Affairs drew the highest individual score, 72%, while Mr. Harper's decision to deliver Maxime Bernier, the Industry Minister, into the Foreign Affairs portfolio earned a grade of just 60%.
One of the more controversial ministers of the 18-month-old Conservative government, Jim Flaherty, was left in his position as Finance Minister, a decision that earned Mr. Harper a score of 68%, despite some misgivings about the government's treatment of income trusts.
Would you expect anything less from a group which is naturally sympathetic to the conservative cause? None of the changes really affects economic policy, so I don't see any value whatsoever in taking a sampling of rich white men. In fact, this type of poll seems more a vehicle to create the impression of positive response, within a subset that is pre-disposed to react favorably, barring any radical change. This result creates some good press, but it really is yawner in terms of relevance.
Conclusion, Harper gets some theoretical traction in Quebec, which was the goal. The FP poll is more free advertising than informative, rendering it meaningless.