Thursday, February 22, 2007

Quebec election - The Third Parties

Not one to be easily shoved aside in what is usually a two-way race, Mario Dumont has come out swinging to try to make the ADQ relevant in this election. Yesterday, he was talking about a Quebec citizenship and a Quebec constitution, to lay out the terms for "reasonable accomodation" of immigrants to the province. This seems to be one of his big cards for rural Quebec. Today, he announced support for two-tier health care in Outremont, with his star candidate declaring himself in favour of allowing individuals to completely opt out of the public health care system. This strikes me as a risky strategy in a province where the right wing is getting awfully crowded, but is fighting for a smaller pool of voters than in other provinces. I'm not certain if talking about private health care in Montreal, where it might seem more viable, will appeal as much to voters in Trois-Pistoles. But it certainly seems that M. Dumont is trying to make this a policy-oriented election, rather than allowing Boisclair and Charest to fight it out on the federalist-separatist battleground.

With all of this attention on the right-of-centre, it will be interesting to see what Quebec Solidaire can do in its efforts to target a few Montreal ridings with its left-wing message. Traditionally, you could count on the PQ to occupy the left wing of the political spectrum, and Boisclair's drift to the right has alienated this wing of the party. Are voters alienated enough to take a risk with a new party? This could become an interesting question, particularly as vote-splitting seems to be a likely phenomenon this year.

I'm writing this post from the riding of Mercier, in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood, and the signs are sprouting rapidly on lampposts. Election fever is in the air, and it's going to be a bumpy ride.

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