Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Quebec Bleu

I have posted at some length regarding my scepticism about the Quebec people's support for federalism and my opinion that support for independence is much more deeply entrenched.

What wine goes best with crow?

The Conservatives are rapidly gaining support in Quebec and are now more popular than the province's separatist party, according to a new poll published on Tuesday.

The CROP poll for La Presse put the Conservatives at 34 percent in Quebec, up from the 25 percent the party won during the January 23 election. The separatist Bloc Quebecois, which a few months ago was flirting with 50 percent backing, dropped to 31 percent from 42 percent on January 23.

....

"Thanks to his attitude, his gestures and his speeches, Mr Harper has clearly succeeded in getting closer to Quebec since the January 23 election," CROP's Claude Gauthier told La Presse.


In retrospect, it looks as though the Bloc's rise in Quebec really was just a temporary protest vote against Liberal corruption, and that there were federalist voters waiting for someone to offer a credible alternative, or for the Liberals to expiate their guilt, whichever came first.

Granted, this is only one poll and the Tories are still enjoying a honeymoon. But it does show that people in Quebec are getting tired of the sterile debate between separatism and centralizing federalism.

Winning 40 seats in Quebec next time is no longer an unrealistic prospect, and with it, majority government.

Would you have believed it possible a year ago?

Source: Yahoo

2 comments:

Adam Daifallah said...

It is generally accepted that there is a base of 30% of Quebecers who are hardcore indépandantiste who want their own country no matter what. There is probably 30% that are hardcore federalist, and the other 40% is soft in the middle. The Tories are picking up support from all three camps.

CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Good comments on Harper's gameplan to substantially reduce the powers of the central government in Canada by devolving those powers on the provinces. If Harper is successful, Canada will become a balkanized nation of bickering premiers, with no common standards uniting Canadians as a nation, and with the Prime Minister sitting in the booth closest to the kitchen, with his hands tucked under his seat, doing nothing.

Harper and his New Tories aim at a massive transfer of power (legislative, financial) to the provinces, through a deal cut in smoky rooms, and over a policy which has not been tested by being debated vigorously during an election campaign. Harper is aiming at a stealth-change of how Canada functions, agreed to by premiers and him, without the voters of the provinces or the voters of Canada being involved in such a decision. It is akin to a Meech Lake Accord without requiring Canadians to vote on it.

Is this process of Harper's democractic? Not by a long shot.

Have Canadians agreed to these dramatic changes in the federal / provincial structure? Not by a long shot.

Will Harper open his dealings to public debate? Never – he does not agree with his decisions being debated by voter representatives.

Harper is aiming at making Ontario the "bad guy", and getting the other provinces to gang up on Ontario's Premier. He is hoping to stampede Ontario into agreeing to a deal, so that Harper can then go the country for an election, hoping to win more seats in Quebec and gain a majority government.

As Chantal Hebert wrote: "Nothing would do more to accelerate Harper's plan to emerge as the default federalist option in Quebec than a campaign that found the federal Liberals and the Bloc Québécois on the wrong side of a deal with Charest on the fiscal imbalance."

Harper's stampede tactics (similar to those used by Bush in his deceptive entry into the war in Iraq) have been successful so far – he suckered Duceppe and Layton into supporting a vote of no confidence in the Liberal government. If it worked once, why not try again?

What can Ontario's Premier, Dalton McGuinty, do given the by now obvious strategy of Harper?

Simple. He can take a stand on principle: that such decisions should be made by the people. McGuinty can make the whole backroom-dealing process transparent by simply stating right now that he requires two things to take place: (1) that all meetings of Premiers on this subject, and any meeting he has with Harper, be open to the public, and televised; and (2) that he will not agree to any deal unless it has been put to the voters of Ontario through a plebescite.

This will immediately make the whole process of nation-changing more democratic, put pressure on the Premiers of all provinces to consider voters as well and perhaps adopt similar plebescites, and relieve McGuinty of any pressure to rush into a deal "in the interests of Canada" (as John Tory has tried to frame it).

So, Dalton: strike a blow for democracy. Call for transparency in meetings of Premiers on this "backroom Meech Lake Deal", and have Ontario voters decide the issue.