Poll: Quebec NDP voters slightly attached to Canada
NDP Leader Jack Layton waves to his largest crowd yet in the province of Quebec in Montreal, Saturday, April 23, 2011. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, May 11, 2011 7:10AM EDT
MONTREAL - A new survey suggests the average NDP voter in Quebec is not necessarily left wing, feels some attachment to Canada, and is convinced the province doesn't get much respect in Confederation.
All of which would place New Democrat supporters right in the centre of the Quebec electorate, suggests the survey conducted for the Association for Canadian Studies.
A complex portrait is emerging from last week's surprise election result, where the NDP swept the province and nearly wiped the sovereigntist Bloc Quebecois off the map.
But the Leger Marketing poll clearly suggests Jack Layton's party managed to tap into the political centre in the province -- both on Canada-Quebec issues and in left-right ideological matters.
Among the key findings of the Internet survey: 67 per cent of self-declared NDP voters said they were very (35 per cent) or somewhat (32 per cent) attached to Canada.
That was right between the two extremes -- the 95 per cent of Liberal voters and 94 per cent of Conservatives who proclaimed an attachment to Canada, and a mere 28 per cent of Bloc Quebecois voters who did.
"This wasn't an ideological vote," Jack Jedwab, executive director of the association, said Tuesday.
He called it the first time since the Trudeau years that Quebec's francophones and anglophones had voted for the same party.
NDP voters also found themselves between the two sides on political ideology: only 29 per cent of them called themselves left wing or centre-left. That compared with 21 per cent who said they were centrist, while 11 per cent identified themselves as centre-right and three per cent as right wing. Thirty-five per cent did not respond or said they did not know.
That placed NDP supporters right between Conservatives, only two per cent of whom declared themselves on the left or centre-left, and Bloquistes -- 48 per cent of whom called themselves left or centre-left. On that score, the NDPers were most similar to Liberals -- who had the highest margin of centrist voters.
NDP supporters were also at the centre when asked how Quebec was faring in Canada. The findings suggest many Quebecers see advantages in Confederation, but don't feel very respected.
When asked whether federalism was advantageous to Quebec, NDP supporters were right in the middle -- at 50 per cent agreement. Only eight per cent of Bloc supporters agreed, while three-quarters of Liberals and Conservatives agreed. Thirty-nine per cent of New Democrats disagreed.
Only 32 per cent of NDP voters said Quebec was treated with respect within Canada. That was right between Bloc voters (four per cent), and Liberal (61 per cent) and Conservative (69 per cent) voters.
The online survey of 976 self-declared voters was conducted May 5-6 by Leger Marketing and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The poll also suggests little change on Canada-Quebec sentiments, despite the election result.
Sixty per cent of francophone respondents declared they were slightly or very attached to Canada. A similar Leger survey five months ago placed that number at 59 per cent.
That compares with non-francophones in the province -- 95 per cent of whom professed an attachment to Canada.
Pollster Christian Bourque said the survey suggests that, while voters may have turfed the Bloc, there has been no dramatic shift toward pro-Canada sentiment.
And he suggested the trendlines suggest Layton has a big task on his hands: pleasing his new voters, while continuing to build his party in the rest of the country.
The NDP has already announced it intends to introduce French-language legislation in the House of Commons. The announcement earned Layton an ovation from a Quebec TV studio audience last week but the plan also carries political risks.
"This is going to make things pretty difficult for the leaders of the NDP -- keeping onside their new voters who, in rather strong numbers, are soft nationalists," said Bourque, Leger Marketing's vice-president.