“Conservatives’ hopes sinking fast in Quebec: Hébert” (The Toronto Star)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau tours Inventys Thermal Energy Inc. during an election campaign stop in Burnaby, B.C., Friday. Trudeau seems to be winning back votes that had helped Stephen Harper get elected in 2011. (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

 (The Toronto Star):

Only a few months ago he had big hopes for Quebec. Since the election call the Conservatives have been far behind. The last string of polls placed the party at 13 per cent.

As the extra-long 2015 campaign finally passes the halfway point, the top-of-mind issue facing Conservative strategists is not whether it is doable to get Stephen Harper’s message back on track but whether there is a winning track to fall back on.

Harper has so far lost more campaign days to unforeseen events than is good for an incumbent. He has not had a good week since he called the election last month.

In the big picture, figuring out whether the Conservatives are in first, second or third place in a tight race is a secondary consideration.

At or around 30 per cent in voting intentions, they are not where they need to be and nowhere near having found an effective antidote to the itch for change that has taken hold of an overwhelming majority of the electorate.

Take Quebec, where the end of the sixth week found Stephen Harper on Friday.

Only a few months ago he had big hopes for the province. His strategists believed the party had a shot at doubling or tripling its seat count, raising it from five to 15.

Since the election call the Conservatives have been far behind and dropping in voting intentions. The last string of polls placed the party at 13 per cent. If the vote had been held this week Harper would have come out of Quebec with fewer seats than the measly five he had going in.

Full column here