Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sans Peur, Sans Reproche

More evidence that while the Liberals remain stuck in 2004, the electorate has moved on:

Most voters say they think a Conservative Party majority government would be a good thing for Canada, according to a new survey that suggests Liberal efforts to build anxiety about Stephen Harper are falling on deaf ears.

The poll, conducted for The Globe and Mail/CTV News by the Strategic Counsel, finds that 55 per cent of voters say sending a Conservative majority to the House of Commons on Jan. 23 would be a healthy outcome. And even in Quebec, where the Tories have been essentially moribund for 12 years, 64 per cent of voters say a Conservative majority would be good for the nation.

The general lack of concern about a Tory majority suggests the party has an opportunity to increase its current lead in the polls, said Strategic Counsel chairman Allan Gregg. He said that 60 per cent of Bloc Québécois voters appear unafraid of a Conservative majority, a number that indicates federalist voters who have parked their support with the Bloc are open to being wooed by Mr. Harper.

"If I was Harper right now, I'd go right into Quebec and hold big rallies," Mr. Gregg said. "Big balloons and marching bands and just feel-good stuff."

The Quebec numbers are nothing short of miraculous, when you consider where the Conservative Party was starting from at the beginning of the campaign--indeed, where it was during the summer.

Some old political myths are being dispelled as a result.

Quebec voters can warm to a federalist party leader from outside Quebec, even when there is a Quebec alternative.

The Conservatives can replace the Liberals as the federalist option in Quebec.

And no longer is the party seen as naturally intolerant of Quebecois and French-language rights. That old legacy, hanging over our heads since the days of Louis Riel, the Manitoba schools question and Regulation 17, has finally died.

Another more favourable myth is also unfortunately being dispelled: where Quebec voters go, so does Ontario (or more specifically, Toronto). Toronto voters are still holding firm behind the Liberal Party despite the surge in Quebec, perhaps because of changing demographics and interests. The Ontario-Quebec link may be weakening and about to break.

This could be the beginning of a political realignment, the kind that comes along once every few decades.

Source: Globe and Mail

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