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Thursday, June 10 2004

“So most elections get decided by a tiny chunk of the country's geography.”

Translation : Your Canada really does include Québec because, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise, the province's voters and politicians are the king-makers this time around.

I joked to a friend the other week that if the Rest of Canada (and, yes, that's an actual term in Canadian politico-speak) elected the Reformed Conservatives to office, a third referendum on Québec separation would be scheduled by the end of the following month. It was a joke but the kind that only serves to illustrate the point.


Six months ago the Liberal party's calculus for a fourth mandate involved making up seats lost in Ontario (to the NDP in Toronto and the Conservatives in the rest of the province) with ridings won in Québec because people actually liked Paul Martin and everyone else would just ride his coat-tails.

A brief aside : In the last federal election, the Liberal party won a majority of seats (in fact, all but two) in exactly one province, Ontario, and still went on to form a majority government. Notwithstanding the legitimate greivances of those out West, it seems to me that the single most effective solution to Western alienation would be a little more Western lovin' but I digress.

However, since the Liberal's (arguably the most smug and arrogant — and effective — gang of political operatives to ever set foot on Parliament Hill) have replaced Jean Chretien with Paul Martin as their leader Canadians seem ready to exact, in Tim's words, a little spanking for their last ten years in power.

The mood of the electorate was already so poisoned by the time this election was called that Jean Chretien would hardly have guaranteed the Liberal's a win. But the thing about Chretien is that his seeming indifference to just about any kind of criticism garnered him a kind of secret, though never spoken aloud, respect, among the people. (Except Québec but that's another very long story.) No one would ever condone the man for grabbing the protester, who stood in his way, by the neck but everyone smiles when you tell the story. On the other hand, Paul Martin's stammering around covering all the bases but rarely saying anything when asked a question has left people cold and suspicious.

And news, last winter, from the Auditor General that the Liberal's blew 100-million dollars on Canadian flags and various other back-room shell games, all in an effort to win the war on separatism, didn't exactly warm people's hearts in Québec either.

Enter Stephen Harper, leader of Reformed Conservative party. (It's actually just the Conservative Party of Canada, the result of a merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance, née the Reform Party.) Of late, they've taken to calling themselves New Conservatives hoping, I can only imagine, that it adds a Tony Blair-esque air to an otherwise fiercely right-wing social and fiscal policy agenda. Since people are pissed at Paul Martin, and no one is quite ready to elect the NDP to run the whole bloody country, Harper is the only man left standing (or, in his case, smirking) and he's enjoyed a lot of attention because of it. Some are already speculating that his party might win enough formerly Liberal seats to form a minority government.

Another brief aside : Why anyone still votes for the kinds of hard-core fiscal conversatives that occupy the right-wing of Canadian politics, these days, after electing (translation : getting screwed by and then upset at) the governments of Mike Harris in Ontario, Gordon Campbell in British Columbia and, yes, Jean Charest in Québec remains a mystery.

Harper is also about as close as you can get to the anti-Christ in secular, homo-loving, pinko-commie, degenerate and community-minded Québec.

So, the only question left to answer is : do people in Québec think that the Liberals will get it together and win enough seats in the rest of the country to form a majority government, thus allowing them to vote their conscience and send the Bloc Québecois (BQ) back to Ottawa, or will they hold their noses and elect the Liberals. Because, even though Québec shares a degree of consensus with some in the Conservative party when it comes to the separation of provincial and federal powers, there ain't no one here who wants to live in the world they are championing.

And in the event of a minority government (translation : Québec, second only to Ontario in Parliamentary seats, votes for the Bloc) the BQ will be the only thing standing between the new government and a vote of no confidence which would, in turn, trigger a fresh election.

Maybe things will pick up for the Liberal's after the leader's debate on Monday. If not, you know where to find the action.


refers to


Wednesday, June 09 2004 ←  → Friday, June 18 2004