Friday, August 05, 2005

Honourable Member for Port-au-Prince

The appointment of a black Haitian francophone woman from Quebec as governor general wasn't just an exercise in political correctness, after all; it was also a cynical political manouevre to shore up the Haitian vote in a few key Montreal ridings.

So says leading Quebec pollster Jean-Marc Leger:

As for the Haitian population, Mr. Léger said, polling has shown the community to consist of strong Liberal supporters, but voter turnout is on the decline. The appointment of Ms. Jean could inspire more ethnic Liberal supporters to vote rather than stay home in protest over the scandal.

According to the 2001 census, most of Canada's 82,405 Haitians live in Quebec, particularly in Montreal.

The community is largest in the riding of Bourrassa, which Liberal MP Denis Coderre won by 5,133 votes in 2004, followed by Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel, the Liberal stronghold of Massimo Pacetti.

The riding with the third-largest Haitian community is Honoré-Mercier, which Grit MP Pablo Rodriguez won by a slim 2,762 votes.


While they still overwhelmingly vote Liberal, Haitians, along with Latinos, are considered among the groups that have traditionally been more friendly to Quebec sovereigntists.

So Ms. Jean's appointment could also address a potential problem for the Liberals, said Jean Dorion, head of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

"It could be a way to prevent a shrinkage in the ethnic electorate. It's not a marked one, but the Liberals are skilled at spotting trends far ahead of time," he said.

To keep a couple more Montreal seats Liberal, it only costs the dignity and integrity of the vice-regal office and the continuing distortion of the Canadian constitutional order.

In Liberal political mathematics, that's a fair equation.

Source: Globe and Mail

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