Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sucking sound reported in vicinity of Conservative war room in St. Lambert

In case the news today that the Harper government has actually put in place changes to meat inspection procedures that have decreased the federal meat inspectors' role isn't enough for you, well, there's this. In case you missed it, a column from L. Ian MacDonald, former Mulroney speechwriter, in the Gazette Monday suggests there could be problems brewing for Conservatives in Quebec. First, with respect to those pesky Quebec by-elections:
There are two other by-elections that day, in the Montreal- area ridings of St. Lambert, held by the Bloc Québécois, and Westmount-Ville-Marie, a Liberal redoubt since 1962. The Liberals should retain Westmount without breaking a sweat, but in South Shore St. Lambert, the Conservatives are seen as the competitive federalist party, and their candidate, Patrick Clune, is himself the son of a cultural icon, Senator Andrée Champagne, famously Donalda on Radio-Canada many years ago.

The dustup over cultural funding, particularly in the French-language media, has cast a negative light on Clune's campaign in the last 10 days. It isn't helping him, either, that the Conservatives are calling most of the shots from headquarters in Ottawa. As a result, the Conservatives are slipping in the riding at a time when they should be growing. Unless they turn it around this week, a riding that could be winnable will probably be lost. (emphasis added)
Why ever would such negativity be expressed by MacDonald, a Conservative supporter, about Conservative missteps of late? Seems MacDonald, with his close ties to Brian Mulroney, may be manifesting the problems predicted in a Lawrence Martin column on August 18th to the effect that a "steamed" Brian Mulroney may have his supporters stand down in a coming federal election. If Macdonald keeps writing columns like this, it may be fair indication that the Mulroneyites are not going to be any friend of Harper going forward.

More importantly, MacDonald's expressing gloom about the state of Conservative chances in the St. Lambert by-election . He writes that the Conservatives are said to be slipping in the riding in the wake of bad publicity in Quebec over Harper's cuts to the arts. If true, this might prove to be a bad omen for Harper's fortunes in Quebec, one of the few provinces where he hopes to grow his seats. Which would in turn provide an explanation for the sudden rush to pre-empt the by-elections in order to preserve Conservative fortunes in Quebec. It's a reboot before there can be any showing of weakness.

Despite what one poll might say, Conservative actions are being noted in Quebec and at least in St. Lambert, they're not playing well.

It's looking like that $1 billion bridge isn't buying friends and influencing people in St. Lambert after all...

P.S. Note that there is no "s" in vicinity...