Posts Tagged ‘gilles duceppe’
Well, the votes are in, and Stephen Harper has his majority government.
- The right moves further to the right. The Tories, after spending five years walking all over Canadians as a minority, now get to walk all over Canadians even more as a majority. Harper believes – as he should, with these numbers – that he has a mandate from Canada to impose his agenda and move the government rightward. Forget the Shit Harper Did; what about the Shit Harper will do?
- The left moves further to the left. The official opposition is now the NDP, not the Liberals. The same NDP who has campaigned on anti-Israel platforms; who cozies up to the labour unions; who believes that quota systems will provide equality. The NDP is positioning itself as the de facto Tory alternative, and with nearly three times as many seats as the Liberals, it clearly believes that it is the voice of the left – or the potential leader of any merger or move to unite the progressive parties. Ironically, the jubilant Layton doesn’t seem to grasp that he had more power in fourth place in a Tory minority than he does in second place in a Tory majority.
- The middle disintegrates. The Liberal party is in shambles. They lost over half their seats and most of their star MPs. They lost official opposition status. They will have to regroup and rebuild. And the common sense centre, the great balancing force against polarization, is severely crippled. Moderation is what suffers in this outcome.
- A weaker official opposition. A Harper majority is a scary enough prospect. But now 102 NDP MPs – many of whom are complete political rookies – will be heading to Ottawa to serve as the official opposition. Even seasoned Liberal MPs would have had a hard time keeping the Harpers in check. There’s no way that inexperienced political neophytes from the NDP will be able to pull it off. Harper’s now got a majority with no strong opposition; he can basically do whatever he wants and get away with it.
- Bloc collapses, but sovereignty gets a boost. The big news of the night was the Bloc Quebecois’s collapse from 47 seats to 4 amidst the Quebec “orange crush”, and Duceppe’s defeat and resignation. It should be good news for federalism? Right? Wrong. I’ve never seen so many Quebecers feel disenfranchised and alienated from the rest of Canada. This is going to provide a huge boost to sovereignty. I’m about as staunch a federalist as it gets, but even I have to admit that I see their point. Quebec voted overwhelmingly left-wing progressive NDP; the rest of Canada (except for Newfoundland) voted overwhelmingly Conservative. Is there any point in arguing that we’re not different here in La Belle Province?
- Human rights? What human rights? With as many as four Supreme Court seats opening up to be stacked by Harper-crony Conservatives during this term. Abortion rights, gay marriage, rights of women, rights of minorities, immigrants’ rights… you name it, it’s on their agenda for attack.
- No more funding for arts and culture. That is, unless the Calgary Stampede is your idea of a cultural event.
- Technology and innovation? Not on Harper’s watch. With important issues facing our country around telecom consolidation, internet billing and metering, privacy, digital rights management… the only party who didn’t respond to Canadians’ concerns about internet and digital policy is the one now holding a majority in Parliament. Four or five more years for the rest of the world to advance while Canada lags behind? Will we even have an economy when Harper is done with us?
- Canadians get slapped around; claim we fell down the stairs. We have a government who ignores us at every turn, walks all over us, and breaks the law with impunity. We get a chance to toss it out on its ear. Instead, we go crawling back to it. Domestic abuse on a grand scale, anyone? Basically, we’ve just sent Harper a message that he can get away with anything. And he will.
- Harper plans to reward his “base”. The Alberta-native social conservative movement has been waiting a long time in minority to get rewarded for its efforts to put Harper in power. All this time, he didn’t revisit socially conservative issues because he didn’t have a mandate and knew that the opposition wouldn’t let him get away with it. Now, all these interest groups want their pound of flesh. Our flesh.
The silver lining is, it’s only 4 or 5 years. The question is, will we recognize Canada after all that time?
With about 36 hours to go until the polls open, it’s time for me to post my totally unscientific, personal-opinion-only musings about the election and what the likely outcomes will be:
- The NDP will win 10 seats in Quebec. With polls showing an NDP surge in support, this could be the breakthrough that Jack Layton was looking for. I don’t, however, believe that Gilles Duceppe’s seat (my riding) will be one of them. I think he’ll hold onto his seat here, albeit by a slim margin.
- The Liberals will under-perform. No, it won’t be a total collapse, a la Progressive Conservatives circa Kim Campbell. They’ll hold onto their safe seats and maybe even steal a couple from the Tories in places where the anti-Tory vote goes Liberal. But the surge in NDP support in Quebec will mostly be at the expense of the Bloc, everywhere else in Canada it will mostly come at the Liberals’ expense.
- NDP/Liberal vote splitting will help the Tories. A cynic would say that the Harper camp is exaggerating the groundswell of support for the NDP, in a classic divide-and-conquer strategy in order to try and engineer a majority. I’m not quite that cynical, and I think the NDP’s support has emerged for a variety of other reasons. But I do think that the Conservatives will pick up a handful of seats due to NDP/Liberal vote splitting. That being said…
- The Conservatives will be held to another minority government. I think that there’s enough anyone-but-Harper support out there, helped by initiatives like Project Democracy, to stave off the dreaded Harper majority. I hope.
- The Greens will once again fail to pick up any seats. Their support has stagnated and there aren’t any ridings where their candidates are demonstrating a lead – or even a close second. The party began as a sensible alternative to the status quo, but has shifted more and more towards the fringe, policy-wise, in the past few years. And with all the mainstream parties (except for the Tories) making environmental issues a big part of their platforms, there are fewer reasons than ever to vote Green.
Remember to vote!
High-ho, high-ho, it’s election time again in Canada. And it sure does feel an awful lot like 2008:
- 4 out of 5 of the party leaders are unchanged. Only Iggy is new this time around, though his post-election political days are probably as numbered as Stephane Dion’s were.
- The party positions and platforms are largely unchanged since 2008 as well, at least on the big issues.
- Elizabeth May is once again angry about being excluded from the debates – and, like last time, I predict she’ll probably get her way.
- Jack Layton is still sporting his used car salesman ‘stache.
- The Tories are once again sitting in comfortable minority-government territory, at once unlikely to lose and unlikely to form a majority.
So remind me again why we’re going to all this expense and trouble?
I would love to see the Tories get the boot. Between the long-form census debacle, the convenient-for-Harper prorogation of Parliament, corruption scandals, arts funding cuts, attacking women’s right to choose, social engineering in the guise of economic policy that punishes anything other than the “traditional” family values, and Harper’s megalomania, the reasons abound. I simply cannot believe I live in a country where we keep electing this party.
Unfortunately, the only hope for replacing the Tories, the Liberal Party of Canada, is still in shambles. Ignatieff’s personal popularity is fairly low (no doubt made worse by those horrible Tory attack ads), the vote-splitting on the left bolsters the NDP and Greens at the Liberals’ expense, and the Bloc is standing at nearly 50% popularity here in La Belle Province.
My vote, which I have no problem saying will be for the Liberals, is a wasted vote, since I live in Gilles Duceppe’s riding and unless he gets morphed into an alien and starts singing Vegas showtunes in the shower, he’s going to run away with it here. But I will still trudge out and cast my ballot – on my birthday, no less – even though I know it won’t do any good at all.
No, I’m not a huge fan of Michael Ignatieff. I liked Stephane Dion a lot better, even though he failed to rally widespread support. But I’d much rather have a party in power that I agree with ideologically on most points, as opposed to one that I believe is steadily taking the country in the wrong direction.
The CBC has launched a short but fairly accurate online tool to help you gauge your political positions vis-a-vis the major parties. Check it out. And make sure you vote, because if we’re paying for this pointless election anyway, you might as well get your voice heard.
(Even if I do sometimes wish I could vote for the onion ring.)
Well, it was lively and even funny at times. That’s all I can really say about the debate format that provided more of a chance for attack zingers than real reasoned debate. Still, I guess it made for good TV, since we were all glued to the screen for a couple of hours – the longest I’ve watched the CBC for in a while. My initial impressions:
- Stephen Harper seemed surprisingly nervous. Though his calm tone of voice contrasted well with the others, as it did two years ago, and he had the advantage of incumbancy, his positions lacked the moral clarity that they used to hold. He seemed almost wishy-washy, and he got backed into several embarrassing corners, namely on Iraq, on arts funding, and on a promise not to raise taxes that will surely come back to haunt him. He seemed rattled by May’s presence, and his showing was surprisingly poor, especially compared to expectations. I can respect someone whose views I don’t necessarily agree with, but it’s hard to respect someone who doesn’t show the courage to have those views. He missed chances to take the stance of the right on issues such as foreign policy. But then, he also had a horribly biased moderator (I mean, what kind of question is “do you think Harper is a barbarian?”). And ultimately, he can be declared the winner if only because he won the portion on the #1 voting issue, that being the economy. The rest probably won’t matter much. Still, I was surprised to see him looking so shaky.
- Stephane Dion is obviously the worst debator of the group, and had the worst showing tonight by far. His debate style mirrors the problem plaguing his election campaign: He lacks charisma, leadership ability, and the confidence to get his ideas across. I did like that he talked about standing up for what it means to be Canadian, believing in our accomplishments, and regaining our place in the world. And I also believe that he has better ideas than his debate skills would seem to indicate. But there’s no doubt that he needed to do a whole lot better than he did in order to have any chance of picking up votes tonight. This was a missed opportunity for Dion.
- Jack Layton accomplished something I didn’t think possible: he managed to make me hate him even more than I already do. I will give him points for consistency, mind you. He consistently managed to take the exact views I disagree with each and every time. Quite the achievement. Seriously, though, he was the only candidate who actually managed to get across what he stood for, rather than just spending all of his time attacking the others, and he deserves some grudging praise for that. I still can’t stand his used car salesman smile, his annoying little moustache, and his habit of saying “Exxon” in every second breath.
- Gilles Duceppe had nothing to gain or lose in this debate. He didn’t make nearly as strong a showing as he did in the English debate in the last election, mind you. As expected, he talked a lot about the province’s rights, and issues important to Quebec. He also scored the most points on the arts funding issue and – surprisingly – did a better job of defending environmental rights than either Dion or May. He had one of the best lines of the debate, when asked what he would do first if elected Prime Minister, he glibly said that he won’t ever be PM… and neither will three other people at the table. But mostly, he seemed tacked on, since he didn’t really answer any of the questions with a real policy answer.
- Elizabeth May was impressive. Period. She’s obviously a skilled debator and, though her style seems vaguely reminiscent of our neighbours south of the border, she scored a lot of clear zingers. I disagree with her on a lot of issues, but she did the best in terms of being prepared with statistics, facts and researched answers. She scored a lot of points that way, and she rattled Harper’s cage more than once. Where I felt she missed an opportunity, though, was in getting her party’s message across. The Green Party platform is all about how every other issue is related to the environment and cleaner, healthier, better living. May’s debate style lended itself well to the format, but she scored more points on attack than on ideology. Since people voting Green are mostly doing it out of ideological reasons, I felt she could have been clearer on what she stood for. Still, I think a lot of heads were turned by her showing in this debate. And she certainly had a right to be there, probably even more of a right than Duceppe.
Overall, the debate won’t lead me to change my vote, but then, I wasn’t really on the fence. For undecided voters, I suspect that Dion will have lost ground, Layton might have gained some among people who actually agree with him (read: not moi), and May probably picked up some points. What this will mean for Harper’s chances at a majority, though, is anyone’s guess.
And no, I didn’t watch the US vice-presidential debate.
Canada wins gold yet again at the World Hockey Championship, with this afternoon’s 4-2 victory over the Finns. Woohoo!
(Now that Gilles Duceppe’s 24-hour run for PQ leadership is over, he can return to his important parliamentary duties, like attacking Shane Doan. I’d venture to say that Doan, wearing his gold medal, probably won’t much care.)
In a bizarre twist, ADQ leader Mario Dumont spoke out Thursday saying he intends to vote Conservative and urging Quebecers not to vote for the Bloc:
Dumont said the Bloc limits the province’s influence on the national scene and acts more like a millstone around Quebecers’ necks.
He said he would vote Conservative, but only recommended that voters not vote for the Bloc.
This is a truly odd move for a politician whose party has practically defined fence-strattling on the sovereignty issue, but is nonetheless pretty clearly separatist. The ADQ spiked in popularity a few years back, but came down pretty quickly when people in Quebec realized the party’s platform was a lot further to the right than most of them agreed with.
So ideologically I can understand why Dumont might vote Tory. Politically, I’m not quite sure what he’s doing. Viewed in context of the next election, is Dumont perhaps repositioning himself as a federalist? Doubtful. Though he usually answers questions about sovereignty with the convenient answer that he wants to “get past” the issue, Dumont has never been anything but nationalist.
More likely, he’s betting that the provincial Liberals have lost so much support, that if the ADQ wants to win seats in the next provincial election, their real opponents will be the Parti Quebecois. He sees Bloc momentum as leading to PQ momentum, and he wants to position himself as an alternative voice.
At any rate, most people in Quebec are unlikely to listen. Whatever happens in the rest of Canada, Gilles Duceppe has never been more popular in Quebec right now, and the Bloc is positioned to win perhaps 60 seats, maybe even more. Despite recent polls showing the Tories taking a slight lead overall in Quebec over the Liberals, this is unlikely to translate into any Tory seats, as their numbers will put them second in a number of Bloc ridings but the Liberals still have concentrated support in many Montreal ridings (including my own).
So Dumont’s comments will probably have little effect in the short-term. But they’re worth keeping an eye on for how they might affect the political landscape ahead of the next Quebec election.
Last night’s “top story” on the news was all about how the campaign has taken a “negative turn” with the new Liberal attack ads on the Tories.
Now, there’s very little dispute that the Liberal campaign has been terribly run. These ads are a bit of a running joke, especially to those of us in the business. And they’re fun to parody and are probably hurting the Liberals more than helping them.
But since when is the negative tone of this campaign “news”? The Tory ads have all attacked the Liberals from day one. They were better ads, granted, but they still spoke exclusively of how bad the Liberals were and had nothing to say about the Tories or their platforms. This has been an attack campaign since the beginning; the only difference is that now the Liberals have climbed into the ring. And if these are their “knockout punches”, Paul Martin’s team is in big trouble.
In the meantime, the Tories have their own troubles, with the news that one of their candidates has been charged with smuggling. The Tories claim they didn’t know, which is probably true. But if they’re going to run a campaign attacking Paul Martin’s claim that he didn’t know about the sponsorship money, at the very least they ought to react to this with more than a “it’s not our fault, we didn’t know”.
And as the two parties throw mud at one another, here in Quebec, Gilles Duceppe is using the opportunity to build support for sovereignty. Regardless of the result of the federal election, the news for Quebec looks bleak.
Update: Reflections now that the debate is over:
- Someone needs to buy Paul Martin a stopwatch, so he can time his statements better. There was hardly a segment in which he didn’t get cut off for nearly going over his time.
- Jack Layton really needs to stop phrasing every answer with his slogan that there is a third alternative. We get it, okay? We just don’t like it.
- As for seniors, children, and working families being Layton’s priorities, well, that’s all very well and nice. (Oh, and if he were being honest, he ought to have listed labour unions at the top of his list). Personally I’d like a government that works for all the rest of us, too. But that’s just me.
- Stephen Harper said one of the only courageous things in the entire debate, when he defended his belief that large companies need tax breaks in order to stay competitive and to create jobs. Unfortunately, he didn’t follow through. Half the debate seemed like a competition on who could bash the big bad rich corporate bogeyman the most.
- Gilles Duceppe’s name-dropping is getting annoying. I can just picture him as the guy at the B-list Hollywood party trying to score points with the cool kids by talking about his lunch with Brad and Angelina. Can’t you just see it?
- Most of the time, the other three candidates ignored Duceppe, figuring there was nothing to gain from going after him and everything to lose. Martin and Harper, in my opinion, lost an opportunity there. Except during the unity segment, none of them bothered to attack Duceppe, and therefore none of them really managed to make the case that they would strongly defend Canadian Unity in the case of a referendum.
- On that note, I’m not sure what Jack Layton hoped to gain by repeatedly talking about “winning conditions” for Canada in Quebec. He couldn’t possibly be thinking he’s going to win any seats here, could he?
- If you tied Paul Martin’s hands behind his back, who else thinks he would be mute?
Overall I’d have to give this debate narrowly to Stephen Harper on points, because he survived the first real test after gaining the lead in the polls, and managed to sound more coherent than Paul Martin in most of his responses. However, it was far from conclusive. Martin has indicated that there is plenty of Liberal ammunition to look forward to in the next two weeks, most likely in the form of attack ads painting Harper as being in the pocket of American Conservatives.
As Duceppe grows bolder about gunning for Canada in general and promoting sovereignty, Layton salivates with the notion of once again holding the balance of power, and Martin and Harper duke it out for another two weeks, tonight’s debate has one solid conclusion: this debate is still wide open.
Gilles Duceppe challenged Paul Martin to a one-on-one debate. Martin declined. So Stephen Harper offered Duceppe take him up on it instead.
Some believe that Harper is going to score points in Quebec thanks to this move:
Aside from the possibility that the Liberals may try to spin this as giving Gilles Duceppe a legitimacy he does not deserve – even though they agreed to let Duceppe take part in the main leaders’ debates, in French and English – I think this is an absolutely brilliant move by Harper. And once again, Martin dropped it right in his lap.
Many Quebec federalists are sick of the Liberals, but feel like they have no other choice if they want to keep the separatists under control. [. . . ] The Conservatives have to change that, and this would be an excellent step forward. We should be using that “stand up for Canada” line as often as we can.
I disagree. Harper has practically zero chance of making gains in Quebec no matter how many times he claims otherwise. He simply doesn’t have his pulse of the political nature of the province. He’s running a campaign marketing his party as the “anti-Liberals”, but we already have the “anti-Liberals” in Quebec in the form of the Bloc.
Even soft nationalists or Quebecois federalists will be willing to vote Bloc if they’re mad at the Liberals, realizing that it’s a far cry from an actual vote for sovereignty. (Hell, 40% of Quebecers think that even a vote for sovereignty still means that they want Quebec to stay in Canada. Our electorate ain’t always the brightest).
So Harper can’t score too many points in the province by saying “the Liberals are corrupt, don’t vote for them”. Because Quebecers will simply counter with “we know the Liberals are corrupt, thanks” and turn around and vote for the Bloc.
However, Harper’s move isn’t all idiocy. He has nowhere to really climb in Quebec, but he probably will pick up support based on this challenge, where it counts: in the rest of Canada. He can use this to make Martin look soft on sovereignty and himself look like the guy willing to stand up for Canada. And with that, he may pick up some support in Ontario, a critical battleground.