Despite the best efforts by Premier Pauline Marois and the Parti Québécois to downplay their separatist orientation, a new poll confirms that the possibility of a third referendum on independence has become the number one ballot question of the April 7 election.
The poll was conducted for CTV by Ipsos-Reid — the second portion of its poll on voter intentions released on Wednesday which gave the Liberals a significant lead over the PQ.
24 per cent of Quebecers say the main reason they'll be casting their ballots would be either to stop a third sovereignty referendum (18 per cent), or to support the idea of one (6 per cent).
39 per cent of those polled say they'll be voting Liberal to stop a referendum, while 19 per cent of Péquistes are voting because they want one.
Further down the list, the economy is number two among all voters (13 per cent), followed by the charter of values (7 per cent to support, 5 to oppose), and integrity.
After the referendum, the number two issue for Liberals is the economy (22 per cent), and to stop the charter from passing (10 per cent).
For Péquistes, the values charter is the number one issue (25 per cent), followed by support for a referendum.
CAQ supporters are primarily interested in lower taxes.
Quebecers are almost evenly split on whether they believe a PQ government would hold another referendum. 54 per cent say they would in their next mandate, no matter what, while 46 per cent disagreed. Liberal supporters are far more likely to agree with that statement (83 per cent) than PQ supporters (19 per cent).
The survey also sized up the two main parties' principal liabilities. For Liberal leader Philippe Couillard, it would be his prior association with former premier Jean Charest's government (59 per cent), while the biggest albatross around Marois' neck is the arrival of the fist-pumping Pierre Karl Péladeau as a candidate.
And finally, Ipsos-Reid says just 56 per cent of Quebecers will actually be voting for the party they like the best, while 23 per cent will use their vote to block another party from winning. No less than 36 per cent of voters are using that strategy.