Friday, October 10, 2008

Conservative victory bad for national unity

With the national polls showing that the Liberals are the clear alternative to the Conservatives, I think it is important to take a look at the province that at the start of the election was supposed to be the key to a Tory victory: Quebec.

The Conservatives invested heavily in being able to pick up seats in Quebec this election. Pundits lauded Harper's outmaneuvering of Dion and Duceppe, predicting a continual decline for the Liberals in the Quebec, and the Bloc being replaced by the Conservatives as the voice of francophone Quebecois. However, just as Kim Campbell discovered, the Conservative grand alliance is inherently unstable.

Harper, after having muzzled the theocratic and anti-bilingualism wing of his party in order to make gains in Ontario and Quebec, threw them a bone in the form of attacks on culture and draconian and backwards crime policies. These, however, went over extremely poorly in Quebec, allowing the Bloc Quebecois to get back in the game. A constant of all the polls recently has been the hemorrhaging of Conservative support in Quebec, with the BQ storming back and the Liberals making some gains from the 2006 results.

If these trends were to hold up, and the Conservatives were to form government, this would be terrible for national unity. The Conservatives are unlikely to pick up an additional seats, including those of star candidates and sure-fire would be cabinet ministers Micheal Fortier and Andre Bachand, and likely to lose marginal seats such as Louis-H├ębert, Beauport – Limoilou, Charlesbourg – Haute-Saint-Charles, and even perhaps Pontiac, the seat of Lawrence Cannon, Harper's Quebec lieutenant. The Conservatives are going to be reduced to a handful of seats in the province, a terrible situation for a government to be in, considering the BQ's resurgence will require an adept federal government with strong Quebec members. The Tory rump in Quebec will consist of a couple faceless backbenchers, the disgraced Maxime Bernier, Josee Verner, the culture minister widely disliked in Quebec for the attacks on culture, Christian Paradis, the do-nothing Public Works Minister, and Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the Labour Minister most notable for flipping-flopping on wanting to re-open the Constitution and building up a local patronage network straight out of the Union Nationale days. For voters outside Quebec who are concerned with national unity, this motley crew is wildly insufficient to combat a swellinh Bloc tide largely created by the Conservatives.

The Liberal team in Quebec is going to grow, with very good chances for pick-ups in Papineau, Ahuntsic, Brossard – La Prairie and elsewhere, on top of strong, accomplished MP's and candidates such as Marc Garneau, Irwin Cotler, Denis Coderre, Marcel Proulx, Marlene Jennings, Lise Zarac and others. This is a strong, capable team, with many former and future Ministers who know how to run a government and take on the BQ. For voters outside Quebec who are frightened by a re-strengthed Bloc, and want to elected a strong national party with effective representation inside and outside Quebec, the only choice is Liberal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Irwin Cotler is not an MP. He is the King of Mount Royal. I hope he's not wasting his time running, and is instead healing the sick with his eyes, because he doesn't even need to try.