The Liberals will have noticed the ubiquitous polls indicating a decline in their support in la Belle Province corresponding with an increase in Conservative support. This is worrying, as after Ignatieff's announcement of "your time is up", Quebec was the only region in which there were no signs of declining support. However, according to a CROP poll in Quebec, the Liberals stand at 26% down from scores around the 30s ever since Ignatieff's assumption of the leadership. Meanwhile, Conservative support has been narrowing the gap, accounting for 22% of respondents. The Bloc has also gone up, to 33%.
In other words, Michael Ignatieff is losing support to everyone. The necessary conclusion therefore is that the Liberal Party is now less enticed by the prospect of an election. They will want a certain amount of time to regroup, and reconsolidate their support.
In a rather paradoxical way, Ignatieff's challenge to Harper is the reason that this time will probably yield significant results. If it had not been for shifting the burden of supporting the government onto the NDP, Ignatieff would be in a worse position to recover his support. Conversely, if he had not declared a lack of confidence in the government, he may not have lost support to other parties.
It is important to be mindful that Ignatieff might have been enjoying more of a honeymoon hangover in Quebec than other provinces. His numbers certainly very quickly ascended to an elevated level. And have stayed there. It's not unreasonable to think that some of the decline since late August may be a trend that Quebec is experiencing later than the other provinces: the end of the honeymoon.
So at the end of the day, it is possible to read the current situation in Quebec in a better light than it would first appear to be. It may not be the harbinger of failure it may seem. In fact, Ignatieff may now be better off than he would have been otherwise.
What's more, depending on when the next election occurs, it may not matter.
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