Thursday, February 15, 2007

It's Quebec Stupid

I openly worried about Stephane Dion's electability in La Belle Provence before he became leader. I am still worried today. Especially, as the next election seems to be destined to be in some way or another focused on Quebec. The first thing that is related to Quebec is the timing. With the Quebec election now basically set for the end of March after the federal budget, the federal election will take place after that, how far depends on who pulls the plug. Here are the scenarios:
  1. What the Bloc and the Liberals want: If Charest wins it will in all likelihood be related to his ability to get a deal on the 'fiscal imbalance.' Therefore, the opposition will be reluctant to go right after a budget that is popular in Quebec. If Boisclair wins on the other hand, the Bloc will sense momentum for separatism and the Liberals will be able to portray Mr. Harper as being unable to stop separatism.
  2. What the Harper wants: If Charest wins, Harper will undoubtedly view this as a ringing endorsement from Quebecois. He will try to force the opposition to bring him down. On the other hand, if Boisclair wins, Harper will be forced to wait lest he try to run on a budget that was rebuked by Quebeckers.
In any case, Quebec is likely to be the reason Canadians go the polls. M. Dion's credibility in the province is still low. Quebeckers are getting tired of voting for a party that can never hold power and are looking for an alternative. Right now, they don't see one. The Conservatives are so wildly out of step with Quebec on almost every policy area and Stephane Dion, as the Bloc is sure to remind voters, is the author of the Clarity Act. Stephane Dion may prefer to wear a green scarf, but the Clarity Act is still the millstone he wears in his home province. M. Dion may have helped to relieve his ultra-federalist label by voting for nation motion in December but he is still toxic to many Quebeckers. If Liberals are able to win the next election it will be because Dion is able to reinvent himself in Quebec. I hope that he will but as I say I'm worried.

6 comments:

Scott Tribe said...

You apparently havent been reading many of Paul Wells' columns of late... you know.. the ones where he points to the Liberals polling in the province and reminding us how so many Quebec pundits predicted the Liberal vote in Quebec would collapse with Dion as its leader.. and while he's not leading in popularity.. he isnt collapsing either.

wilson61 said...

Libs and Cons are pulling votes from different areas. So they may not trip each other up.
#1 priority in Quebec is to defeat the separatists!
If Charest wins, there is no better time for the feds to gang up on the Bloc. They are at a low of 31% now.

Antonio said...

not bad for someone who isnt from Quebec.

and yes scott, since Dion's election Liberal numbers are stable, but to be fair Dion hasnt really done anything yet.

The BQ is taking a huge hit at the expense of the Tories, no doubt due to actions that directly benefit Quebec like the nation, fiscal imbalance, and action on the environment...sad to say but it was done and Quebec can implement its own programs

Derek said...

To the average Quebequois, I believe their vote will depend on the following 3 factors:

1. Stop focusing on seperatism, Quebequers themselves are tired of having their decision makers monopolize their elected time on this issue. For this Harper has garnered a lot of Browny points because in one short motion, he addressed what needed addressing and got the country back to business. Going forward this will also mean keeping the fiscal imbalance debate as a fiscal debate and not a seperatist one.

2. The environment, Quebequers care deeply for this and they want action. Whomever can deliver the goods, Harper or Dion will win big in Quebec. In addition, the average Quebequer and the average Canadian for that matter believes that Kyoto is the silver bullet in solving this problem, any attempt to convince otherwise is a risky electoral proposition. Dion clearly has the leg up on this factor.

3. Action. In order for the vast majority of Quebequers (especially relatively young Nationalists and Parizeau's beloved-now converted ethnic groups) to believe in Federalism again they need to see it work for them. Noticeable, definitive, and quick actions by the Harper Government are making some gains at demonstrating this: The Accountability Act, the settling of the Sydney Tar Ponds issue, etc. Although the Liberals worked on the Tar-Ponds issue for a long time, the perception is that Harper walked in and in one decisive move made the decision. I'll bet my briefs that in 25 years if you ask any Canadian who cleaned up the Tar Ponds? He will say Harper did!

I would like to note that I am not a Quebequer (in fact I am an Albertan), but I have many Quebequer friends and I am a French Acadian who follows French Canadian issues.

wilson61 said...

Having a choice in feds is giving Gilles the squeeze too. Especially when Cons and Libs are from different planets and don't split the vote.

Small Town Shyster said...

I knew it...Conservatives are alien invaders from beyond the moon!

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