Flush from keeping the traditionally Liberal Montreal riding of Bourassa in the party fold last month, Justin Trudeau boldly decreed that the NDP without Jack Layton was no longer the "hopeful, optimistic" party that Quebecers had massively voted for in 2011.
A crime of lËse-Layton it may not have been, but a case of overreaching it certainly was.
Every year Léger Marketing measures the year-end popularity of Quebec's political players for Le Devoir. Published last weekend, this year's instalment does suggest that Layton's Quebec mantle has been handed down but not to the Liberal leader.
Thomas Mulcair not only finishes the year in Quebec as the province's best-regarded politician but with an approval rating of 60 per cent versus 10 per cent who disapprove of his performance, he has set a record for popular appreciation on the Léger scale.
Trudeau ran second but the verdict was more mixed. While 44 per cent have a good opinion of the Liberal leader, 32 per cent do not - a result that reflects the fact that the Liberal leader remains a polarizing figure in his home province.
Philippe Couillard - the other new Liberal leader on the Quebec scene - this year earned similarly mixed reviews.
No one should take the year-end barometer as a precursor of future electoral success. Québec Solidaire's Françoise David always does well in the rankings. This year she is second only to Mulcair. But with single-digit support in voting intentions no one would describe her party as being on the fast track to power.
Still the rankings and the polling data that comes with them do offer a glimpse into Quebec's current federal and provincial mindset. Here are a few highlights:
The PQ's controversial values charter did not give Premier Pauline Marois enough of a boost to risk a provincial election this fall. And it has not injected more fuel in the sovereignty engine. Support for sovereignty continues to hover around 40 per cent. Marois is the only provincial leader whose negatives outrank her positives.
Layton's succession in Quebec is faring better than that of Gilles Duceppe. Rookie Bloc leader Daniel Paillé comes in 10th place in the rankings - four down from Maria Mourani, the Ahuntsic MP he kicked out of caucus over her opposition to the PQ charter.
Perhaps more significantly, almost one in two respondents (48 per cent) professed to not know Duceppe's successor. Another 20 per cent had no opinion. That puts the Bloc leader in the same sparsely attended Quebec ballpark as Elizabeth May whose Green party has yet to ever elect a single MP in the province.
At a time when the issue of the relative importance of MPs versus their leaders is at the heart of a heated debate on and off Parliament Hill, the Léger rankings offer one particularly sobering number.
The Bloc's Louis Plamondon is the dean of the House of Commons. But despite his having served under two successive party banners in Parliament for three decades, 70 per cent of respondents told Léger Marketing that they did not know him.
There have been rumours of a new Conservative charm offensive to win back ground in Quebec in the 2015 election. If they are serious about that, Stephen Harper and his team have their work cut out for them. Negative opinions outranked positive ones in the case of every single Conservative on the list - starting with Harper whose disapproval rating stands at 67 per cent - the highest ever for a prime minister in Quebec.
With leaders that are either profoundly unpopular or profoundly obscure, the Conservatives and the Bloc could be reduced to the role of bit players in the next federal campaign in Quebec.
But by the same token the Liberal chickens that Trudeau seemed eager to count on the night of the Bourassa byelection have yet to hatch. Given widespread voter satisfaction with Mulcair, there is no guarantee that they will.
Indeed, at year's end, the NDP's biggest challenge is neither Trudeau, nor Quebec. But more on that in another column.
Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer whose columns are distributed through Torstar Syndication Services