Saturday, October 07, 2006

On Quebec, Again

I'm sure my bias enters into the equation when I look at the Quebec turnout numbers. Others have pointed out low turnout numbers in other ridings, but I still think people should be careful in drawing any concrete conclusions about Quebec based on such paltry representation. Apparently, only 10% of Quebec Liberals bothered to cast a vote, despite the fact that a mail-in was developed to counter the lack of ground support. Comparing Quebec to Alberta (that Liberal hotbed), it shows a striking asymetry (h/t Calgary Grit):

Quebec-
97 ridings (21% of the total)= 3700 votes= 38 people per riding

Alberata-
39 ridings (8% of the total)= 3300 votes= 84 people per riding

2.21 times the turnout in the supposed Liberal hating province, as opposed to the traditional "base" province, who's support is so essential. Imagine the disparity if Quebecer's actually had to go to the polls, instead of hand-fed to coax a vote.

Yes, Rae, Ignatieff and Dion can claim they took the province, I don't dispute that. Yes, Kennedy had an abysmal showing that hurts his chances to win the leadership. However, I caution anyone who makes the logical leap that these results speak to any widespread support in the province (the polls too are simply name recognition at this point). In that same vein, Kennedy's ability to win seats in a general election, in Quebec, should not be weighed based on the opinion of a few old-guard Liberals in the province. These results tell me that no candidate has really "connected" with Quebecers, whereas other regions have shown some interest in the process. You can't say Ignatieff would do well in Quebec, nor can you say this represents support for his constitutional position, based on such a small sample size of highly partisan operatives.

The Quebec results will play a large role at the convention. However, in my mind they say little about the candidates, other than the fact that no one really seems to have distinguished themselves. I will go further, there is nothing in this turnout that suggests any type of real "renewal" in Quebec and I wouldn't expect much of a return to glory in the next election- there is alot of work too do, these numbers support that thesis. So, as Liberals, do we choose a leader based on one province, at the expense of others, who seem to be more engaged? I think it important to look at this race in totality, and not endorse or vilify someone based on regional disparities, especially when people don't seem to care anyways.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Liberals have to stop this fixation with Quebec at the expense of other regions. I see no reason why the Bloc wont sweep the province again so look at the big picture

Orchard said...

"These results tell me that no candidate has really "connected" with Quebecers"

Steve, you know that polls have shown Dion has connected with sentiment in Quebec right? I've read that if Dion was made leader of the liberal party, 30% of Quebec would likely vote liberal.

Note that I am not saying anything bad about Kennedy. I'm just saying that the quote above isn't really true. And I think we both know it?

Steve V said...

jeremy

"In the Strategic Counsel-Globe and Mail-CTV poll conducted Sept. 14-17, Dion was easily the best-known of the candidates in Quebec. But to know him is not necessarily to love him.

Only 27 per cent of Quebec voters who knew Dion thought he'd be a good choice as leader, to 29 per cent who thought he'd be a poor one. In comparison, Ignatieff and Rae were regarded favourably overall, and by a wide margin.

And 28 per cent of all Quebec voters identified Dion as the candidate they would least want elected leader, the largest block of regional resistance to any of the candidates. Only two per cent of Quebecers wanted Ignatieff the least, and only four per cent Rae."

Werner Patels said...

I wrote about this issue here:

http://www.wernerpatels.com/musings/2006/10/what_is_qubecs_.html

At this point, it is actually fair to say that Alberta is a more Liberal province than even Québec, yet the party continues to focus 99% of its attention there. Go figure. Plus, Alberta has a much greater growth potential for the party, whereas it will be years before the party can regain its strength in Québec (if ever).