Monday, March 16, 2009

Operation persuasion

The political state of affairs in Quebec is the subject of a few columns and reports today. Lysiane Gagnon writes about recent polls with Conservative numbers down in Quebec: "Harper gets the cold shoulder." The Conservatives presently have 10 seats in Quebec and they could lose a majority of those. Chantal Hebert reminds us though that Harper's already looking at B.C. as replacement territory. There's always Ontario too, what with possible Conservative losses in Quebec representing only a handful of seats after all. But the inability of Conservatives to grow in Quebec to 20 or so seats, which would take them into majority territory, that prospect's likely gone. And that's a shame.

The big question then is how entrenched the Bloc will remain, and whether they can maintain that stranglehold of 49/75 seats and keep the Liberals from growing there. Gagnon doesn't think Ignatieff can shake them:
And yet it's unlikely Mr. Ignatieff, despite his charm and elegant French, will be able to break the quasi-monopoly of the Bloc over the francophone vote. Even if he outdoes himself to try and please Quebeckers, he will never be able to compete with the Bloc because it is a party that addresses one single, homogeneous clientele without having to take other provinces and other interests into account.
It's tough to speculate on this dynamic. How much longer will Quebecers be enamoured of Gilles Duceppe, for example, as he's previously mused about retirement. His strong showing in the October election may have re-energized his leadership for a while but there could be an opening due to his longevity, time for a change arguments, etc., a similar but better appeal than Harper initially ran in 2006. Further, the downfall of the Conservatives in 2008 in Quebec was their ideological positioning, on arts funding and criminal justice issues. The Bloc could easily run against that. It won't be as easy to pin Ignatieff.

In terms of what the Liberals are up to then in Quebec, note this CP report today of Ignatieff and 10 MPs at a fundraiser of 1300 in Montreal yesterday after having travelled the province this weekend. Included in the appearance, Stephane Dion, and a classy display of unity for Quebecers to show that the Liberals have put an end to infighting there. From the translation (original), Ignatieff speaking about the last election and Dion:
The Conservatives, for their part, prefer the lies, the ones who won the last election by denying the economic situation, "said Liberal leader.

"Mr. Dion was telling the truth. We are the party of truth, even when she is sad, cruel or difficult, and we will tell the truth to Canadians," Liberal leader promised.

The Liberal leader has also held to honor the work done by his predecessor, St├ęphane Dion, an attempt to silence the rumors of strife that have torn the party in time of the withdrawal of Mr. Dion at the head of the PLC.

Mr. Dion has shown for its discreet, merely repeating the words of its new leader.
That was a good thing to read, Dion's been swept to the side so quickly, well past time for a decent display like this.

Quebec, again, looks to be central to a change in government...hopefully for the better next time around.