Much of the above potential co-relation will depend on Dion. I admit some disappointment in the Liberals, in that, we don't see much in the way of coherent Quebec strategy. I don't see a great effort to re-define the Liberal brand in Quebec, nor do I see Dion out making the case in public. If the Conservatives do stand to gain, it shouldn't be default, as the Liberals take a passive, uninspiring path.
Dion does have an image problem in Quebec, which is an objective fact. Having said that, in the aftermath of the convention, public opinion showed that many Quebecers were prepared to give Mr. Dion a second look. Important to remember, despite Harper's overtures, Dion is still a native son, who's ideas, on balance, are clearly more representative of Quebec society. Harper might have the federalism angle, but he is clearly at odds on other fundamental issues, whereas Dion might have some "history", but he also enjoys a more palatable agenda.
There are a few stories making the rounds, that re-tell the story of Dion's move from young separatist to staunch federalist. I think that an important story, that Liberal strategists should embrace. The fact that Mr. Dion did flirt with the idea of separation gives his pro-federalist perspective of today some context. Frame Dion's journey as an evolution, that embraces the fundamental principle of bring people together, the anti-isolationist:
"I changed my mind. I began to think that (unity) was not an issue only for Canadians but an issue for the world.... We have a duty to show that it's possible to build strong states, strong countries, with people of different languages."
I understood the motivations for independence, but my thinking evolved to see Canada as the great global experiment. Dion can articulate his view of Canada, and in using his early separatism as backdrop, he breaks out of the Chretien shadow to some extent. I'm not naive enough to think Dion can entirely re-shape himself in Quebec, but it is also far too defeatist to think he can have no appeal to those that waiver between federalism and autonomy. The assumption that the Liberals are reduced to staunch federalists must be tackled, otherwise all the predictions about Harper may come to pass.
The Liberal Party needs to be aggressive, needs to re-brand its view of federalism into a quasi-internationalism, that speaks to over-arching similarities. Dion needs to spend more time in his home province, make the case on issues and address his "past" head-on. I might be optimistic, but I also see opportunity for the Liberals if the Bloc does decline. While Harper says the right things, it is very apparent that he has failed to make real connections, the political motivations obvious. If the Liberals are genuine, there is no reason why Dion can't resonate and challenge the fatalistic assumptions.