A large majority of Quebeckers feel their provincial government is corrupt, according to a new Léger Marketing poll,.
The results confirm that the issue of corruption is at the heart of the ongoing election campaign, and will remain so with the arrival in the race of anti-corruption crusader Jacques Duchesneau as a candidate for the upstart Coalition Avenir Québec.
Pollster Jean-Marc Léger said it is too early to gauge the impact on voting intentions of Mr. Duchesneau's arrival, which was first reported in The Globe and Mail on Friday and formally announced on Sunday.
Still, he said the race is ripe for a major shake-up.
"People are furious," Mr. Léger told Le Journal de Montréal, which published the poll. "At 70 per cent (of respondents who believe the current government is corrupt), this has to include Liberal supporters. The poll confirms the discontent and the complete disillusionment of people towards old-style politics. They are disgusted, they want something else."
Quebeckers are not convinced that one individual can solve the entire situation, as only 45 per cent of respondents said they believe that Mr. Duchesneau can reduce corruption in the province.
Both the Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois have responded to Mr. Duchesneau's arrival in the race by touting the strength of their own team of corruption fighters.
The province has been shaken up in recent years by a series of news reports and damning findings by provincial and municipal auditors-general of links between government contracts and political financing. Experts said that in many cases, competitions for contracts were rigged, with Quebec taxpayers picking the tab.
Liberal Leader Jean Charest has given himself a mark of 8 out of 10 for his government's record in dealing with corruption since coming to power in 2003.
However, Mr. Duchesneau said the government waited too long to call a commission of inquiry and has failed to change the political culture in the province, giving Mr. Charest's Liberals a mark of 2 out of 10.
Léger Marketing is now gauging voting intentions in the province and will report its findings later this week. The election will take place Sept. 4.
The CAQ entered the race in third place, behind the second-place Liberals and the first-place Parti Québécois. Political insiders expect that the CAQ will rise in the polls, and it will be interesting to see whether it will eat more into Liberal or PQ support.
The CAQ is promising a 10-year moratorium on the constitutional debate in the province to focus on economic growth.