Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quebec election - The Morning After

If I could meet them in person, I'd have some harsh words to say to the poll clerks and returning officers in Sherbrooke - thanks to them, I was up about an hour and a half longer than I needed to be, hitting "refresh results" every few minutes to find out if Jean Charest was indeed, as CBC was claiming, defeated in his own riding. I've been groggy all day as a result. As a spectator sport, last night was awesome. I haven't been so rivetted by a leaderboard since the 1995 referendum.

Greater (and more alert) pundits than I have already weighed in with most of what I would say about the significance of the election, but I'll sum up what I think are the most important bits:

1) By no means does the third place finish of the PQ mean that the sovereignty movement is dead. All three parties campaigned on their ability to win concessions from Ottawa, and Dumont's "autonomiste" option is sovereignty-lite. Voters were prepared to punish both the Liberals and the PQ, but this means that the issue is temporarilly dormant, ready to be awakened when Mario Dumont eventually makes a demand that Stephen Harper won't concede, and is then accused of having made a "grave insult" to Quebec.

2) André Boisclair's career as PQ leader, despite his protestations to the contrary, is over. The PQ does not treat failed leaders well, and will seek to regain its rural support, and perhaps rebuild its bridges with the left. Maybe Lisette Lapointe (Jacques Parizeau's wife) wants to make PQ leadership a family affair?

3) Quebec Solidaire and the Greens did surprisingly well in Eastern and Western Montreal respectively. If I were Daniel Turp, I'd be thanking my various gods today.

4) Mario Dumont is now in the driver's seat, and in an ideal position for future growth. He narrowly dodged becoming the Bob Rae of Quebec provincial politics, and will instead have some time to break in his new crop of MNAs, and figure out who the wingnuts are.

5) It's going to be a painful few years on the federal-provincial relations front. My best guess is that, having extracted concessions on the equalization front, the Charest-Dumont duo will now go after tax points, and call on Ottawa to lower federal taxes to make more room for Quebec to raise more of its own revenue. The big question is whether Stephen Harper thinks that every ADQ seat is a potential federal Conservative district. Personally, I have my doubts that everyone who voted ADQ is a conservative - there were other factors at play, like protest voting, nationalism, and anti-Montreal sentiment - but if Harper thinks that decentralization and dancing the Jean et Mario two-step will win him votes, he may go a long way indeed to meet their demands.

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At 8:28 am, Anonymous Tim said...

By my count, you're two-for-two on provincial election calls (NB, QC) in the last year.


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