in three Quebec ridings, and it has proven to be as exciting as politics in Quebec have tended to be in recent years. It’s hard to see what has been happening both federally and provincially as nothing less than a sea-change, not a temporary post-scandal correction as many (including myself) feared it might have been.
The results are interesting. In my new riding, Outremont, the winner was Thomas Mulcair of the NDP (and the former provincial environment minister for the Quebec Liberal Party). In Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean, the winner was Denis Lebel, a Conservative (and sitting Mayor). In Sainte-Hyacinthe, the winner was Ève-Mary Thai Thi Lac for the Bloc Quebecois. Most striking is that none of the Liberal candidates were successful, even now that the scandals are behind them and despite (well, maybe) having a new leader.
Some bullet-point reactions:
- The NDP have to be careful how they interpret their victory in Outremont. If they have any illusions that this is a vote of confidence in the party as a whole or in Jack Layton, I think they’re sorely mistaken. On the positive side of things, Mulcair, and Mulcair alone, is the reason for their victory. If anything he has such personal popularity and universal respect that he won in spite of how the NDP is viewed in Quebec.
- It is pretty shocking to “traditional” interpretations of Quebec voting tendencies that neither of the MPs in the Saguenay region are sitting for the Bloc Quebecois.
- Stéphane Dion must be – should be – pretty scared. For the party with the second most seats in Parliament to not win any of three by-elections? Not a comfortable spot for the leader. When he was selected as leader of the Liberal Party, I was cautiously optimistic that he could do a decent job – certainly better than Ignatieff – but so far, it has been nothing but setback after setback. He’ll probably stick it out until the next General Election, but it looks like he’s already finished.
- Back to the NDP, after years and years of living in Montreal but never having any hope of my candidate winning, I’m kind of amazed that someone has done it. Again, though, if the NDP over-estimate the significance of this victory they’re going to be in trouble. I’ve almost only ever voted NDP, but party had pretty much lost me as a supporter over the past two or three years. The NDP’s foreign policy is nothing more than naive and pandering, and the fact that they have done nothing to truly address their chronic problems in Quebec is more than frustrating – at this point it smacks of a mix of disrespect and fear. I hope they can get over it – and the first step would be a radical re-thinking of their traditional (and idiotic) strong-centralist federalism. It does them no good and a lot of harm.