The latest poll to survey voter intention shows Pierre Karl Peladeau’s candidacy may not be the boon the Parti Quebecois hoped it would be.

The Leger marketing poll, conducted for Le Devoir and the Globe and Mail, shows the PQ and Liberals are in a dead heat with 37 per cent of voter intention. The Coalition Avenir Quebec is in third with 14 per cent.

The PQ had a slight lead in the last Leger poll, conducted in January, suggesting that the announcement of Peladeau’s candidacy has helped boost the Liberals’ fortunes, not the PQ’s.

In an interview earlier in the week, the Montreal Gazette’s Don Macpherson said Peladeau was supposed to help the PQ make inroads in the Quebec City area, where the CAQ holds the majority of their seats.

Peladeau’s candidacy was largely viewed by pundits as a move by the PQ to bolster its economic credibility and appeal to right-of-centre voters in a bid to take votes away from the CAQ candidates.

A poll released Thursday morning showed Liberal support spiked in the Quebec City area since the start of the campaign, and Saturday’s poll corroborated that information – 39 per cent of respondents in the Quebec City area said they intend to vote for the Liberals.

Peladeau’s arrival on the scene and his assertion that he joined the PQ in order to give his three children “a country they’ll be proud of” made the potential for a referendum call the hottest topic of the week, much to the chagrin of the party which wanted to avoid the subject during the election campaign.

Marois offered up a few of her ideas about an independent Quebec Wednesday, before spending the rest of the week trying to steer the conversation away from the independence issue.

“(Marois) was playing right into the hand of the Liberals in particular, and I think (the PQ) realized this and that’s why they’re trying to re-centre the campaign,” he said.

It’s the referendum talk, Macpherson said, that has given the Liberals a helping hand.

Francophones still make up the majority (44 per cent) of those who intend to vote PQ, while just under three quarters of non-Francophones respondents said they intend to vote for the Liberals.

The poll also asked about voters’ opinions of the “star” candidates that have been announced since the beginning of the campaign.

Opinion on Peladeau was the strongest, with 42 per cent saying they had a favourable view of the former president and CEO of Quebecor while 40 per cent said they had a negative opinion of him.

Nearly half of those questioned for the poll had negative opinion of Gaetan Barrette, the former head of the federation of medical specialists who ran in 2012 under the CAQ banner. Only 16 per cent of those polled said they had a positive opinion on the doctor-turned-politician.

And most voters were indifferent to former student leader Martine Desjardins, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they didn’t have an opinion on her or preferred not to respond.