The race is definitely heating up in Canada. Flaming rants have come to pass from the leaders of the four major parties last week. Gilles Duceppe, from the Bloc Québécois, the Liberals' Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party, have all campaigned hard to define PM Stephen Harper as a clone of American president George W. Bush, while Mr. Harper has attacked Mr. Dion by portraying him as a weak leader.
In Quebec, the Bloc insists that the recent Conservative cuts in cultural funding shows that Mr. Harper does not care about Quebec culture, although he has recently recognized, for the first time in Canadian history, that Quebec is a nation. Quebec artists groups, which have been known in the past for supporting Quebec's bid for independence, are now mostly campaigning for the Bloc (a minority is campaigning for the Liberals).
As far as polls are concerned, well, they are quite contradictory, depending on which press groups release them. On Tuesday, a Strategic Counsel poll released in the Globe & Mail showed that the Tories' lead has shrunk in targeted swing ridings in Ontario and Quebec. Keep in mind that the Globe & Mail is known for its support for the Liberal Party.
Today, a new Segma Unimarketing poll was released in the very federalist La Presse, a French-language newspaper in Quebec. It shows that the Tories are consolidating their lead everywhere in Canada, and most specifically in Ontario and Quebec. Keep in mind that La Presse is actively campaigning for the Tories in Quebec; some of its earlier polling numbers showed, as is true of this new one, higher Tory support than in other polls.
According to this poll, the numbers go as follows: Conservatives at 42%, Liberals at 23%, NDP at 16%. In Quebec, the Bloc's lead shrinks to 33%, followed closely by the Tories at 31%. The Liberals are long gone at 16%. These numbers would mean that the Tories could pick up as many as 10 seats from the Bloc in francophone ridings in Quebec, and up to as many as 20 seats from the Liberals in suburban Ontario.
So Segma Unimarketing projects that the Tories will get 173 seats, the Liberals 68, the Bloc 41 and the NDP 25. However, Segma's projection model does not include other regional polls, which are crucial for making accurate seat projections.
Specific regional polls are set to be released in both Quebec and Ontario this week. These will give us a much better idea of where the race is currently headed.