The Conservatives are rapidly gaining support in Quebec and are now more popular than the province's separatist party, according to a new poll published on Tuesday.
The CROP poll for La Presse put the Conservatives at 34 percent in Quebec, up from the 25 percent the party won during the January 23 election. The separatist Bloc Quebecois, which a few months ago was flirting with 50 percent backing, dropped to 31 percent from 42 percent on January 23...
CROP also found that 56 percent of Quebecers were satisfied with the federal government, an enormous jump from the 22 percent recorded in a CROP poll from January 11 to 16 this year.
The strategy is going according to plan. Appease Quebecers with "renewed federalism", offer taxcuts and accountability, deliver on elections promises to look sincere and competent. From a purely strategic point of view, it is hard to argue against the masterful Conservative agenda. The only real opening on the policy front was the environment file, but it now appears the government is preparing to blunt any potential criticisms. Does all this mean that Harper will win a future majority? I see only one option and it necessitates an engaged electorate.
Toronto Star columnist James Travers sums up the landscape:
Knowing Canadians were determined to toss the Liberal rascals in January, Conservatives detoured around every obstacle threatening that momentum. Since the last day of the last election was unofficially the first day of the next, the Harper minority government is still following the same safe road in the hope a majority waits at the end.
The result is feel-good agenda that demands as little of the administration as it will ultimately ask of voters.
Drawing substance mostly from myth, the five Conservative priorities won't do much to make this a better country. But that's not how this government expects itself -- or its budget -- to be measured.
Harper's priorities have a singular purpose: To convince Canadians, as Mike Harris convinced Ontarians, that a government that keeps its promises deserves a second chance.
It's a low standard but it is consistent with the self-imposed limits of the government's five defining objectives. From the complex Accountability Act to the simplistic notion that getting tough on crime does something more than disproportionately punish those already dispossessed, the government is advancing policies that wouldn't normally withstand Harper's intellectual rigo
The only hope to stop the Tory surge is a detailed discussion of motivation. Gerard Kennedy offered a glimpse of the strategy, when he referred to the Conservatives agenda as a "marketing strategy". The opposition must frame this government as a slick machine, who's only motivation for popular policies is power. Legislation is not presented from a set of values, but as a means to the majority end. It is crucial that the opposition attach cynicism to the Tory plan. Arguing details about policy is futile, in the face of this mountain of manipulation. The discussion must differentiate between good government and good politics.
Admittedly, this tactic is a longshot because it presupposes a voter who is engaged enough to follow the argument through the maze of propaganda. Harper is banking on a disinterested electorate, the opposition must make the case that this government is challenging the voters intelligence. Make it a debate about manipulation and the opposition has a chance. Make it a debate about policy and we are assured of a future majority. The Liberals must present their own vision, within the context of a values first approach, and in that way they can contrast it with Harper's hyper-politicism. Canadians may react to accusations that they are being manipulated, if the alternative looks "pure" beside the motivation of power- it's their only chance IMHO.