Saturday, May 12, 2007

What About The Liberals?

All the speculation concludes, the Tories are the ones that stand to gain with Duceppe's departure. I suppose there is some logic to that assumption, given Harper's transparent outreach to soft-nationalists and the Conservatives Quebec strategy. There is polling evidence to suggest that disgruntled Bloc supporters would find a transition to the Tories more attractive, compared to the Liberals. The Liberals still have a credibility gap in Quebec, and there are no signs that there is any momentum, or a return to past glory. However, all this said, I still don't subscribe to the knee jerk assumption that what's bad for the Bloc is good for the Conservatives.

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.


JimBobby said...

Whooee! I reckon Harpoon done hisself a world o' good with that "nation within a nation" deal. Who knew that semantics and a few billion bucks was what Q-beck really wanted?

Harper's republican states' rights decentralization plays to distrust of Ottawa. Works in Alberty, too.

I reckon votin' Con'd be a brand new thing fer a lotta Q-beckers. When they started votin' fer the rotten separatist BlocHeads, they switched from always votin' Liberaux. I figger, despite all the water over the AdScam dam, if they get tired oif the BQ, a lot of 'em go back "home" to the Libs.

Harpoon's makin' inroads but he can't take Q-beck without alienatin' his base an' they're already gettin' restless an' lookin' fer Reform.

Afstan's Harpoon's albatross. He ain't gonna win Q-beck votes by stayin' the course.


Anonymous said...

If Dion went through this change from sovereigntist to federalist, maybe he just has the formula to get the soft nationalists who voted BQ to vote Liberal.

sassy said...

Duceppe drops bid to lead Quebec separatist party

Sat May 12, 2007 11:01 PM EDT

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Veteran politician Gilles Duceppe said on Saturday he was abandoning the race for the leadership of the Parti Quebecois, just one day after vowing to leave Canadian federal politics in a bid to lead Quebec's top separatist party.

Duceppe, 59, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which has seats in Canada's federal Parliament, said he would throw his support behind Pauline Marois, 58, currently the only other candidate for the PQ leadership.

In a statement issued on Saturday evening, Duceppe said he made the decision after assessing Marois' popularity within the Parti Quebecois and in Quebec generally.

Miles Lunn said...

Well it looks Duceppe has dropped his bid, but I argued on my blog that had Duceppe left it would benefit both parties, just in different regions. The Liberals are mostly likely to pick up Bloc support in the Greater Montreal area is most people here are centre-left and even if they find the Liberals too centralizing, they find the Tories' policies too right wing.

On the other hand Tory gains would mostly be in Rural Quebec and Quebec City since people there are more open to conservatism and tend to favour decentralization even more so than in Montreal.

Steve V said...


That sounded completely reasonable.