It takes a lot of work to change voters’ perception of a government, once that perception has taken hold.
And the Parti Québécois government's new mining policy will continue to feed the perception that it backtracks on major policy commitments.
That's damaging enough for the PQ among voters, in general. But it's an even bigger problem when it alienates some of its own supporters.
The PQ's new mining policy affects both groups.
During the last election campaign, the PQ kept accusing the Liberals of practically giving away Quebec's gold, nickel, and other minerals.
It promised to collect five per cent in royalties on all minerals taken from the ground. The PQ also said it would impose a 30 per cent tax on "unusually high profits".
Instead, Quebec’s minister of finance Nicolas Marceau has announced that mining companies, even those whose mining operations were not profitable, will be taxed one per cent on extractions up to $80 million dollars and four per cent on extractions above $80 million.
The mining companies will also pay between 16 per cent and 23 per cent on their profits.
Marceau’s backtracking may have been inevitable.
Mining companies have put investments in Quebec on hold for several months.
That's in part because of the worldwide drop in commodity prices.
But the freeze was also the result of the uncertainty surrounding Quebec and what the PQ government was going to do.
It may be several years before we know if the policy change will help fill Quebec’s coffers or will lead to a long term slowdown in mining investment here.
In the meantime, the takeaway message is that the PQ has backtracked once again and the people most angered by the change are environmentalists and left-leaning social democrats.
These changes will make it easier for that group of voters to continue moving toward Québec Solidaire, the sovereigntist party represented in the national assembly by Françoise David and Amir Khadir.