Despite all the hoopla, some observers, myself included, were rather skeptical. Here's what I wrote a week ago upon the monumental announcement of the Péledeau candidacy.
"With the Quebec Liberals a lot closer in the polls than was predicted by the media of late, Péladeau will be the linchpin to an election win or loss for the PQ.And so we find ourselves a scant week later looking at a three point Liberal lead in the polls, something that Pauline couldn't have imagined, her thinking being that the deal with the devil that she concocted would cynch her victory and she could live out the next four years as Premier of the Quebec, then retire, (turning over the reins to Péladeau) satisfied and content.
While Pauline sees Péladeau as a necessary component to election victory, she may be making a pact with the devil and the gambit could very well backfire.
It's was a good plan, one that had a more than reasonable chance of succeeding.
But as the old Yiddish saying goes, "Men plan, God laughs"
The truth is that Péladeau was never a good fit and for most of the PQ faithful, the unionists, students, government workers, he is the antithesis of what they believe in.
For these voters, accepting Péladeau into the fold is is strictly a question of holding one's nose and making an electoral compromise that remains hard to swallow indeed.
For some, too hard.
But for separatist militants (sovereignty at all costs,) and the PQ hierarchy, it was an easy choice, expediency over principle, that is.
That is why an old-time communist hardliner like Gilles Duceppe could accept so enthusiastically, a man who is Quebec's preeminent union buster, someone who inflicted fourteen lockouts in his various companies and a man that broke the back and destroyed the union at Le Journal de Montreal.
Now this latest poll is not definitive, in Quebec, polls never are and in the end voters may swing radically before the fateful day of reckoning on election day.
But it does indicate that Péladeau is not the panacea that Marois thought he would be and his maladroitness right off the start proves the political axiom that a successful businessman does not necessarily a successful politician make.
Péladeau's rush to establish his bone fides as a separatist was perhaps his most egregious error, re-opening up the dreaded referendum debate and putting paid to the carefully crafted PQ plan to avoid that debate.
The unanticipated and unwelcomed re-opening of the referendum debate was about as well-received by the public as a sudden and unexpected pounding toothache, heralding the necessary but dreaded appointment with the dentist.
For Phillipe Couillard and the Liberals, this campaign has been one marked by what can only be described as uninspired, low-keyed caution, perhaps counting on the fact or hoping that the PQ would commit a strategic blunder, re-casting the dynamic.
But interestingly, perhaps it is low-keyed caution that Quebecers are looking for. Sometimes we just want a little less drama in our lives.
And so it has happened, the serendipitous turn of events and the Péladeau ineptitude has given the Liberals a lead in the polls, based solely on the toothache dynamic, the one in which even committed sovereigntists don't want a referendum, nor talk of a referendum.
Although support for sovereignty may sit at about 40%, support for holding a referendum, or even debating one is much, much lower.
This isn't a paradox, it actually makes perfect sense.
Sovereigntists realize that another failed referendum will be crushing and humiliating. It will weaken Quebec's position in its battle with Ottawa and this for another generation at least.
Considering the close vote in the last referendum, any new referendum loss will show support for sovereignty diminishing, another crushing blow to the movement.
As Canada's position on sovereignty has evolved to that of annoyed indifference, the Quebec's blackmail gambit of concessions or sovereignty has evaporated into thin air.
Nothing is for sure, the electorate remains fickle, but one thing we can deduce from the poll is that the CAQ is going down the drain to the detriment of the PQ.
|Key to success: Keep up the referendum pressure|
The real disappointment in all this is the federal government, which promised to intervene in the debate if the PQ made claims or proffered assumptions about sovereignty that Ottawa disagreed with.
Well that has happened, when the PQ talked about the dollar, passports and borders, professing to tell Quebecers what will be, and how negotiations with Ottawa will win out.
I'm not saying that Harper himself should have waded in, but perhaps Denis Lebel could have fanned the flames of the sovereignty debate by scotching those nonsensical separatist assertions about the dollar and the border.
All he had to do is to tell voters that Marois and the PQ cannot make promises that presume Ottawa's hand.
That's it, the sovereignty debate relaunched!
Marois would have screamed about Ottawa's interference in a Quebec campaign, but the Conservatives could easily have told voters that it was the PQ who started the debate......Touché!
At any rate, any discussion about sovereignty, squabbles with Ottawa and question of a future Quebec and referendum is music to Liberal ears, because voters just don't want to hear it.
Remember the Hollywood axiom that any publicity, even bad publicity is good publicity, because in the end, publicity is publicity.
To most Quebecers, the referendum and sovereignty refrain is like an annoying song that one can't get out of one's head, a song that turns voters off the PQ.
And so the Liberals should crank up th volume and inflict as much referendum and sovereignty pain as they can, because in the end it is music to Liberal ears.
It would be nice if Ottawa helped.