Monday, October 24, 2005

C'est qui vous connaisez dans l'OPM

According to the Hill Times, the opposition leader's office has more Quebec content than Paul Martin's PMO. This, in itself, isn't of the utmost importance since Paul has the greatest political mind in Canadian history as his Quebec lieutenant. Still, it bring us back to the question of what the Conservatives need to do to win in Quebec?

Harper has certainly tried a lot of tactics to make inroads in La Belle Province but he's still at single digits there and will be shut out come next election. Is it simply a matter of the province being too far left for the Tories? Are we still feeling the fall-out from the catastrophic implosion of Mulroney's old coalition with the separatists? Is there anything Harper can do to drum up his support in the province? Would another leader be more successful? And, if so, who?

I'm not sure I have the answers to these questions. I view the Mulroney years as an anomaly and tend to think his supporters are lost to the Bloc for as long as Quebecers see the BQ as a viable voting option. And while I'm sure someone like Bernard Lord would do better than Harper, I really do think the policy differences would still leave the province a wasteland for the Conservatives.

If they ever want to form a majority government again, the Conservatives will need some sort of breakthrough in Quebec. I honestly have no idea as to how they can pull it off. Do any of you?

18 Comments:

  • Wait for the sponsorship scandal to fade into memory.

    Collect lapsed BQ voters.

    Lose seats in Ontario due to lack of anger at sponsorship scandal.

    Tories: Goddamnit...

    By Blogger Clear Grit, at 8:32 PM  

  • Having the benefit of having married into a Québécois family, I get a lot of input from la belle province.

    CG's observation is spot-on: Quebeckers just don't care that much for any kind of Tory policy - no matter how close to the political centre they may be.

    The PQ is actually a funny party (and the same goes for the BQ): they are quite left-wing for the most part, but when it comes to cultural matters, they tend to become extremely right-wing (along the lines of "we don't want allophones or anglophones").

    In other words, the PQ/BQ pretty much captures the whole spectrum of political views across Québec. The remainder is picked up by the Liberals, and that's it.

    By Blogger AWR, at 9:02 PM  

  • The only party that will come out ahead will be the Bloc. Yes the Conservatives are polling in the single digits and might come out with 2 seats but take a look at Dither's numbers. The Liberals are in the mid teens and sometimes as high as mid twentys. This breaks down to fewer than 12 seats for the Liberals. Thanks to Chretien, Martin and their many scandals, people in Quebec will vote Bloc and will continue to blackmail the rest of canada to get a bigger piece of the pie.

    By Blogger Dorionhawk, at 11:35 PM  

  • Ya, pretty much say screw it about getting votes in Quebec, cause if you push to far to the left to get the Quebec vote you'll lose in the west.
    About the only thing that the Tories can do is keep plugging away at mountain (just like the way plants, wind and rain take out real mountains) but maintain its principles with the tory message. Come up with good policy and when the momentum shift does happen Quebecers will swing with the tide.
    What would be better is if the Tories would be able to get a majority (tough but is doable) without Quebec. Wouldn't it be nice for Quebec to feel for once what it was like being on the outside looking in. Kind of like if they seperated. It would be like trying soverignty without actually leaving.
    Ha! Brilliant!
    Come on Steve, give it a go! What have you got to lose?

    By Anonymous Don Mitchell, at 11:39 PM  

  • Quebec is the most left province in Canada. There is no way that Harper will get anything there. Unless a leader from Quebec comes they might pull off a couple of seats. But if the BQ go that will only give seats to the NDP. The NDP is a mirror image of the bloc, except for seperatism of course. And Quebekers would rather vote for their own. The only party that can gain anything would be the NDP if not the Liberals, but the Conservatives cna only dream...for now at least.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:08 AM  

  • I can't help but think there are a few ADQ seats ripe for the taking if the Conservatives packaged the right message with the right leader.

    I think Bernard Lord, or a Quebec leader could likely take 5 to 10 seats in the province with a strong campaign.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:47 AM  

  • Congratulations Calgary Grit. FOr the first time ever, an article with a French title has the front page.

    Stockwell Day told me that the CPC will get 3 seats in Quebec in the next election.

    I'll take that bet. $100 Stockwell?

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 2:56 AM  

  • I support the Tories and I will take that bet!

    The first step for the CPC is to pick a Francophone leader. It gives a double bounce. The CPC would then win (some, not a whole lot) of seats in Quebec and even more in Ontario. For some reason Ontarians like it when their is a Francophone leader.

    By Blogger Greg Staples, at 8:32 AM  

  • QuebecHarpermaniac explains:

    First, there are tons of lefties in Quebec. However, that doesn't mean there are no conservatives.

    As an above post mentioned, ADQ polls 20% minimum in the province. CPC is 25 - 30% nationally, so the lefty skew in Quebec is not as big as you think.

    Second, Queberkers are the most pragmatic of people. For instance, they support private participation in health care more than any other Canadians. I don't see how this squares with being "lefty".

    Third, Quebeckers supported Free Trade en masse - that was part of the Mulroney support. Quebeckers do not fear global trade the way Ontario does.

    One thing I haven't seen posted here is the fact that Quebeckers don't dislike Harper. They haven't shut the door on him in any way. He should spend more time here - with the media. And not La Presse - there's no chance La Presse will switch from Martin when its owners have spent a life time to get Martin where he is.

    chuckercanuck.blogspot.com

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 11:00 AM  

  • Sorry Charles, I have to disagree. Noone I knew in Quebec (where I was 'til very recently) was at all sympathetic to Harper.

    That said, two points:
    1. The ADQ polls high for a reason: they have good policy, are insouciant, and Quebeckers like both. The Tories can do that.
    2. Harper's spoken French has gotten worse since the last debate. What's up with that? His command of the language is fine, but he sounds very much out of practice.

    Conclusion: if he jacked his French, campaigned his ass off w/ Mackay for Josee Verner (sp?), and picked up a couple interesting policy points (i.e. "we won't repeal SSM", "we're happy to decrim pot once we have US assurances that it won't hrut Quebec's economy at the border", and "desequilibre fiscal, desequilibre fiscal, desequilibre fiscal") he could win a token, showcase seat with a hot MP.

    By Blogger matt, at 11:20 AM  

  • I don't believe that Harper (or any other non-Quebec leader) is automatically going to get shut out of Quebec. There are a handful of seats, that should the Tories be looking to form government (even a minority one), a seat or two may come into play with the idea that said MP would automatically become a bigwig within the government.

    Take for example, the seat of Pontaic. Whereas the Liberals hold that seat by a fair margain with David Smith, the Bloc only did margianly better than the Tories in 2004, which to me suggests, that with a strong Tory candidate (Ex-Quebec Cabinet Minister/current-Tory Quebec Lt Laurence Gannon), a strong Tory federal campaign, and a little (okay, a lot) good luck, that the Tories could steal this riding.

    Again, this assumes that the Tories are coasting to a minority victory in the final week of the campaign.

    As for post this election, I really believe that Quebec will warm up to the Tories after the Tories govern for a short while in a minority situation. You aren't going to see a massive sweap of Tory Blue across the province, but I think they'll warm up to the party enough that 12-20 seats may not be unrealistic before the end of the decade.

    A new leader may help, but I think it's folly to believe that a Bernard Lord could suddenly increase the totals too much.

    I also believe that its a mistake to assume that Quebec will vote the same no matter where in the province they are. There are many areas that are not as hostile to Tories as others, and you cannot compare them just like Rural Ontario does not vote the same way as Toronto.

    Or Winnipeg and rural Manitoba.

    Vancouver and the BC interior.

    Edmonton and Calgary. (Oh wait.)

    By Blogger The Hack, at 11:25 AM  

  • Matt,

    If we are going to get anecdotal, let me tell you:

    In the last election, my extended family voted 5 Libs to 2 Cons.

    The family is 7 Cons to 0 Libs now.

    Look at Francis Scarpallegia - Lib MP for Lac-St-Louis. He has issued press releases calling for income tax cuts for which he was PUNISHED by his government (see chuckercanuck.blogspot.com for details). He also voted against SSM...

    There's opportunity in Quebec and its there for the taking.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 12:29 PM  

  • James; After the flack I took for "quebeckers" and my incorect "cedille" use, I figured it was time for a French title.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:20 PM  

  • A collapse in support for the Bloc will NOT result in a large swing to the NDP. The NDP has NEVER won a single seat in Quebec in a general election (that includes prior to the Bloc's existence as a party). The only federal party that has less of a chance of winning seats in Quebec than the Conservatives is the NDP. The NDP is too anglophile and too centralizing for most Quebec voters. Historically Quebec has gone to the Liberals when third parties like the Bloc or Creditistes haven't existed. If the Bloc vanishes, the Liberals would likely dominate the province with a smattering of a few tory seats.

    Having said that, I don't think the Bloc is disappearing anytime soon. Support for sovereignty is high right now (thank you federal Liberals).

    Matt

    By Anonymous Matt, at 4:14 PM  

  • Except for a small presence in Quebec to take a few votes from the Liberals, Harper should just forget about Quebec for the present. Instead, he should just allow the Bloc to fight the Liberals and take a few more seats from them.


    Instead, Harper shoud concentrate on the rest of Canada. Play the scandal card for all it is worth, and forget about just about anything else.

    At worst, he maintains what he has with little change. And the Liberals lose a little to the Bloc, making them even more unstable.

    At best, he gains a few, the Liberals lose a few, and he ends up PM with the Bloc supporting him. Which is not that unlikely, given that both parties share essentially the same national unity platform -- differing only in degree.

    Of course, Martin doesn't differ that much either. He just won't talk to separtists in the Bloc.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:45 PM  

  • I live in Montréal.

    When Brian Mulroney was the leader of the CPC we vote for him.

    We could also vote for a guy like Joe Clark.

    But we will never vote for a guy with a moral agenda.

    A Reaganomics, it could happen, specially if he's a Quebecquers.

    But the moral right... Not a chance...

    And here in Quebec Harper is "tag" with a moral agenda (not so hidden).

    By Blogger David, at 1:04 AM  

  • To win in Quebec you need a left wing Eastern (preferably Quebecois) leader. So screw em. Work on getting votes in non GTA Ontario and westward.

    By Blogger Wade Ranger, at 6:29 AM  

  • Proportional representation would give the Tories some seats in Quebec (and the Liberals more seats in the west).

    There is an analogy with the British Conservatives in Scotland. In recent first past the post elections to the House of Commons and constituency elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Tories have only won one seat. It is PR which has given them a significant group in the Scottish Parliament.

    By Anonymous Gary J, at 6:49 AM  

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