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Archives for June 2004
of the election results that the pundits, columnists, and editorials are universally wrong about, and that is the success of the Bloc Quebecois last night. The bloc took two-thirds (54/75) of Quebec seats in a stunning success. A success that must be even sweeter for them because just a year ago people widely and openly questioned their very existence even within Quebec.
All of the columnists and pundits, however, even ones I like and respect a great deal, are warning that this victory is somehow a victory for the concept of a sovereign Quebec, or even a step towards separation. That is simply not the case; in fact, I think the opposite is true.
This time there are two reasons why people felt comfortable voting for the Bloc. First, I think a solid majority of people is confident that separation is a non-issue at this time. This freed people who normally would never have voted for the Bloc to do so. Second, and the real motivator for these people and others: other than the discredited Liberals, there is no viable political option in Quebec other than the Bloc.
Note that neither reason involves any sense of anger towards Canada. The Bloc, unlike (it seems) the Western elements within the Conservative party, is no longer driven by anger.
Remember that the sponsorship scandal here wasn’t just about mismanagement and waste – it was about bribing and brainwashing Quebecers to have a different attitude towards Canada. It was the ultimate cyncial ploy – and it was all the more cynical because the things that were funded were totally worthy of funding. It was both the why-to-fund and the how-to-fund that were at issue here, not just the how-to-fund (which was the issue in the rest of Canada) or the what-to-fund, which everyone agrees were valid and worthwhile projects.
So this election, in Quebec, was really just an utter rejection of the policies of the Chretien government. The problem – there is nowhere BUT the Bloc for voters to go. The Conservative Party is a non-starter in Quebec. The historic attitude of the Reform/Alliance roots of the party towards Quebec is well known, and no make-up job is going to make it go away. As well, the Bloc itself is specifically a rejection of the old PC coalition that grew up under Mulroney. The NDP and the Bloc share a lot in common on policy, except for the key and extremely important fact that central to the NDP’s social democracy is the fact that, for the NDP, this should stem from a strong federal government. This is completely anathema to the Bloc, but not only to them, but also out of the question for a great majority of Quebeckers, including the Parti Liberal du Quebec.
What this election really signals in the Quebec context was that the old Chretien-era policies with respect to federalism are bankrupt and must be quickly and unceremoniously put to rest. The Liberals have probably 14-18 months to redefine their Quebec policy, and the motivation to do so should be high for them: it will give them a clear majority next time around.
is over, and the results were pretty close to what people predicted. The bottom line: Liberals keep ‘fragile’ hold on Parliament.
on Hitchens on Moore: Hitchens’ Itchin’s.
today’s election on the WWW, you can do much worse than the Globe and Mail’s candidates to watch page, which will feature live updates starting at 7pm EDT tonight.