Unless something big changes, it looks increasingly likely that the Conservatives best chance to win is through a dominant performance in Western Canada combined with wins in rural and suburban Ontario.
The Conservatives have been doing all the politically-correct things to try and win support in Quebec, including in agreeing to give Quebec more control over their immigration system and give the Quebec provincial government the power to collect all federal tax revenue in the province – even though other provinces aren’t given the same power.
Yet, the pandering doesn’t appear to have worked.
A new Leger poll shows the Liberals with 39% in Quebec, while the Conservatives are far back at 21%.
Ominously for the Conservatives, the once-moribund Bloc Quebecois has caught up and is also at 21%.
And in further concerning news for Andrew Scheer, the People’s Party led by Maxime Bernier is at 6%.
As always, the numbers for the NDP are horrendous. Having once dominated in Quebec federally under Jack Layton, and winning a decent amount of seats in 2015 under Tom Mulcair, the NDP now led by Jagmeet Singh are facing a total wipeout, having fallen to just 8%.
If the People’s Party continues gaining support, and if the Bloc remains around 20%, the Conservatives will struggle to make any real gains in Canada’s second largest province.
That’s why Scheer should abandon his strategy of pandering to Quebec. After all, most Quebec residents don’t like the pandering, since it’s really directed at Quebec’s political class rather than the population at large. Additionally, the pandering angers the Conservative base and angers people in the rest of the country.
For the Conservatives to win, it’s looking increasingly like they will need to focus on the West + Ontario. If they can dominate in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and then win over those who voted for Doug Ford in Ontario, the Conservatives will have a substantial number of seats. Combined with their support in rural BC, and if they can chip away at the Liberal support in Atlantic Canada, a path to victory is certainly there for the Conservatives.
Remember, in the 2011 majority win, the Conservatives won nearly 50% of the popular vote outside of Quebec, and had enough seats that they would have had a majority even if they lost every Quebec seat.
If the Conservatives focus on trying to appease the Quebec political class, they will only depress their own supporters. And no amount of pandering will stop the Conservatives from still being slammed by the establishment media and potentially facing another illegally-funded anti-Conservative campaign pushed by disloyal groups acting on behalf of U.S. billionaires.
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