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Dumont bashes Bloc, promotes Tories

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.

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