Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Panic Button

There has certainly been a bit of panic in Liberal land since the "Outremont Poll" came out on Friday, showing the NDP in front. Given the strong candidate the NDP is fielding and what I'm hearing is a very disorganized ground campaign by the Liberals, this might not be as surprising as it would seem at first glance.

Either way, given low voter turn-out in by elections, there's no use panicking until Monday night, and there's certainly nothing to be gained by going around and spreading conspiracy theories about espionage from within.

It should make for an interesting night of results - less glamorous, but more important, would probably be a Conservative win in Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean.


  • I have a friend very involved with the NDP. A few years ago, he'd happily bash Thomas Mulcair, then Québec minister of the environment, for not acting on global warming and "actual issues". Today, that friend is cheering for a Mulcair victory.

    Word is that Mulcair, whom I don't know very well, is of a kind similar to my friend. Mulcair's reason for turning down an offer from the Conservatives is that he disagreed with their environmental plan. Instead of choosing the Liberal Party, which I think would've been a logical choice, and where he'd be welcomed and could've had a big impact, he chose to join the NDP, which offers a "real change". I don't have a problem with him joining the NDP, it's not the best career move but an argument can be made for it. What I find odd is how he refused a Conservative offer mentioning strictly the environment as a reason. If the Cons offered me a riding, I'd probably mention the environmental plan in my refusal, but I would also name several more reasons. My point is that Mulcair seems like he'd actually most Conservative policies, and people seem to omit that and see him as a champion of the environment. It's certainly good for Layton and his party to have the visibility that comes with Mulcair in Québec, where the man is very respected and beloved for standing up for his environmentalist principles in the cabinet, but the move to the NDP probably shows Mulcair as an utopist opportunist, someone who'll have very high visibility without ever holding power and see his ideal policies actually implemented.

    I'd also like to mention that while Mulcair is the undisputed star candidate of tomorrow's festival, the candidate with the second highest visibility is Jocelyn Coulon... the liberal candidate in Outremont. He's made appearances for years in La Presse and Radio-Canada, and he's certainly not an eternal backbencher. So, while Mulcair's popularity helps the NDP, which probably won't see any breakthrough in the next general election, the fact that the Liberals put a very potent man in front of him and would get its second defeat (Mulroney won in 88) in Outremont since the 30's (if not before), would be catastrophic for Liberal morale in Québec. Sure, voters can come back, and the result itself might not be extremely catastrophic, but for the morale... it'll be horrific.

    By Blogger jeagag, at 4:42 p.m.  

  • "...less glamorous, but more important, would probably be a Conservative win in Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean."

    Of course they could both happen.

    By Blogger bigcitylib, at 5:09 p.m.  

  • I'm not sure when one should panic, but let's remember that there was a time when the Liberals won 74 of 75 seats in Quebec. The last set of polls I saw had them losing Outrement (a riding they've held for over 30 years) to the NDP, AND not only having the Tories win in Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean, but coming in a distant third in that riding, AND coming in FOURTH in the third by-election with only 5% of the vote (behind the NDP's 7%).

    Now, I actually kinda doubt that's how it'll end up, as the Liberals are going to push pretty hard in Outrement, and that might have some spillover effect in the other two ridings. However, for the Liberal Party of Canada, who haven't had a (non-interim) leader from outside of Quebec in over 17 years to be in danger of losing Outrement for the first time in 30 years, and coming in third, and FOURTH in the other two elections is pretty shocking! As I said, I'm not convinced all three things will happen now, but if they do?

    Well, if that's not the time to hit the button, I'm not sure what is.

    By Blogger Lord Kitchener's Own, at 6:56 p.m.  

  • I hope the party learns from this by-election instead of just sweeping the results under the table and blaming it on someone like Ignatieff. As if Ignatieff can somehow make or break this by-election.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 6:57 p.m.  

  • I have a character flaw that makes me love watching drama queens go at it. Jason and Antonio's self-obsessed hissy fits are like Perez Hilton and Chris Crocker pulling each other's hair screaming about whether Britney is a trashy whore with no career left or the biggest diva-icon to ever grace America. In the big picture, I couldn't care less about Coulon or Mulcair winning, really - but please, Jason and Antonio, keep it up!

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 7:29 p.m.  

  • C'mon, CG:

    panic button should be pressed about 60 million times by now.

    blaming iggy and his crew is pathetic. who argued that Dion could deliver Quebec? no one. so, who should be surprised about what's going on here? no one. Are Liberals all on crack?

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 8:37 p.m.  

  • jeagag; A Mulcair win would be really interesting too, in that it would actually give the NDP a leader in waiting, one imagines.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:06 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Anthony, at 10:16 p.m.  

  • Wasn't that one of Dion's major drawbacks? The fact that he was disliked in Quebec? So maybe this shouldn't be such a huge shock to anyone.

    But on the other hand, he really wasn't well liked anywhere during the leadership convention if I recall... At least, he was no one's first choice.

    LKO: I kinda think the Grits might still take Outrement but I think they'll focus on it to the exclusion of all others. Which might help the Tories if they push hard these next few days. The poor publicity for Dion might also shake a few Grits loose and into the Tory camp as the federalist vote consolidates.

    By Blogger Eric, at 10:51 p.m.  

  • A Mulcair win would be really interesting too, in that it would actually give the NDP a leader in waiting, one imagines.

    Hmmmm.... the plot thickens. Methinks you might be right on this, Dan. Good call.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:36 p.m.  

  • cg; good point about Mulcair being a possible future leader. We've heard that one before, but perhaps he'd be the man to make that party relevant in the province of Québec. With a few credible left-wing candidates, such as Steven Guilbault from Équiterre and who made a name for himself with Greenpeace (his name circulated a lot among liberals recently, but...), the NDP could be a force in Montréal, if the Bloc was to lose whatever little of relevance it still has and if the Liberals can't function properly. Montréal's a left-wing city, there's no doubt about that, but the federalist/sovereignist Liberal/Bloc duality, there was little room for actual issues to be discussed, but if rural Québec nationalists are ready to give a chance to the Conservatives, maybe Montréal nationalists would be ready to ditch the Bloc for the NDP. And, frankly, good ol' Jack's probably not the man who'll be able to do so. His French's improved since he's been in office, but he still seems like an outsider in Québec, which is a problem Mulcair doesn't have.

    Of course, this is all speculation, and I don't think it's even likely. However, maybe Mulcair is indeed what the NDP needs in order to break in Québec, where both Liberal and urban Bloc voters could be tempted to unite. I don't see Jack Layton leaving any time soon, though; he hasn't hit his sixties yet, and he's performed remarkably better than his two predecessors. Mulcair's not that much younger than Layton, but if he sticks around for a while, his bid for the leadership could be a big one. Perhaps people like Karl Belanger would be interested in propping him up, if Layton were to step down (unless he'd, by then, be planning a campaign of his own)?

    By Blogger jeagag, at 11:41 p.m.  

  • Never in the history of Canadian journalism have so many newspaper articles, political columns and television pundits been reporting the same damned thing over and over and over and over and over and over again....

    "a test of Dion's leadersip..."

    Cripes, somebody shoot me because this has been reported to such an extent over the past four days that I am now clinically depressed and am in dire need of therapy. Not depressed over bad joo-joo for Dion, depressed that journalism in this country has become so mundane and predictable.

    Everyone together now... "how many times can the media be saying the same thing over and over and over again..."

    Free prozac to all who answer. Meantime, one hopes that our fabulous cadre of reporters and pundits find something else to talk about because there are only so many ways you can say the same thing before people start switching the channel to watch reality television.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 8:27 a.m.  

  • "A Mulcair win would be really interesting too, in that it would actually give the NDP a leader in waiting, one imagines."


    And I repeat:


    Nail. Head. Bang.

    If Dion continues on his current leadership tour-de-force, there are damn good reasons why ambitious pols in Quebec would want to build up a credible NDP alternative to both the Liberals and the Bloc. As it stands he NDP stands no chance in Quebec without a major and sustained series of policy changes. They are a joke.

    But then again so was the ADQ.

    Mulcair could drive that down the throats of an NDP that needs a reason to live, and that gives people with ambitions reasons of their own. Mulclair, given a national stage, might be a far more suitable leader to the ROC than Action Jack.

    By Blogger Michael, at 1:41 p.m.  

  • Mulcair's environmental street cred is a big deal to the other thorn in the NDP - the rise of the Green party. As much as the Green Party repeats its tired mantra that they attract voters from across the spectrum, if you actually look at the federal election survey, Greens are overwhelmingly former Liberals or NDP'ers.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 2:10 p.m.  

  • First results are in...

    Conservatives are ahead 56%-31% in Roberval; Bloc ahead by one vote in St. Hyacinthe.

    Liberals are ahead 13 votes to 8 in Outremont! Dion is saved! :)

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 9:11 p.m.  

  • I think that the Liberal Party of Canada has missed the point in Outremont. The fact is Mr Mulcair is a gifted speaker, well known in Quebec, who people can identify with. That is the reason that he has polled so well and could possibly take this one. I don't live in Quebec, I am certainly not an NDP supporter, however I'd sincerely consider voting for him.

    Liberal candidate Mr Coulon refuses to even admit that the NDP are even an adversary in this by-election. He has said on TV that the Bloc are their adversary, not anybody else. That's an incredibly naive tactic to employ. People listen to that and think "Get your head out of the sand".

    The Liberals are still fighting an inner war over their leadership, blaming factions within the party for "losing" this by-election.

    Until they get past this in-fighting and selfish attitude, the party can kiss it's chances of running this country goodbye.

    By Blogger Mercury Rising, at 9:17 p.m.  

  • Mulcair's leading by 18% with 3% of the vote gone. I don't know if we'll see another edition of what happened with the Conservatives and ADQ outperforming their last-week rising poll showings, but I wouldn't rule it out at this point.

    I'm somewhat glad the NDP could get a seat in Québec. It's just that... I'd rather they take it away from someone else!

    By Blogger jeagag, at 9:42 p.m.  

  • I anticipated the results, but - in a slim, even squeaker, sense. I'm taken aback by the wide margins, truly. I'm not even sure what to say. I will say -- I've long said, "No '007 Election", but I think I was wrong. It's coming, and the plans are being made right now.

    And Dan, you were the first I know of to suggest "future NDP leader". I said above, but repeat: Hmmmm, I think you may be onto something....

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:06 p.m.  

  • springer, bo green, springer.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 11:09 p.m.  

  • Mulcair could drive that down the throats of an NDP that needs a reason to live, and that gives people with ambitions reasons of their own. Mulclair, given a national stage, might be a far more suitable leader to the ROC than Action Jack.

    I would not overstate the ability of an at least somewhat nationalist Quebecer to shove anything down the "throats" of the mainly English-speaking labour and social activists who make up much of the party membership. There is much goodwill toward the idea of "accomodating" Quebec in the party, I would say, but there are limits. The NDP has the same problem as the Conservatives, though to a lesser degree, in that much of the party has a Western orientation, and that wing is about as keen on "asymmetrical federalism" as the Reformers were.

    By Blogger JG, at 12:41 p.m.  

  • By Blogger Unknown, at 1:57 a.m.  

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