In Quebec, Conservatives have burnt their bridge; under Harper, they have nowhere to go but down...
Harper's polarizing approach to politics offers the Liberals their best opening in Quebec in 25 years.
They have a unique opportunity to recast themselves, not by twisting the party into a pretzel in search of a so-called Quebec message but simply by playing up what they already are, i.e. the only readily available progressive governing alternative to Harper.
It is that ace in the Liberal deck that the party stands to squander by pursuing the pipe-dream of an opposition coalition.
Hebert offers a caveat, the coalition as "squander", but that unlikely unknown aside, I agree that Liberals have room for optimism, moreso than any time I can remember in recent history.
From this outsider's perspective, Quebecers have very long memories, and recent events have solidified Harper. We always knew that Harper's courtship of Quebec was entirely political, lacking any genuine concern. What Harper has done in the past week, is reveal a callous calculation, wherein he decided that a real breakthrough in Quebec was unlikely, so throwing Quebecers under the bus for political survival was an easy pivot. Harper is done in Quebec, he will never recover. Couple that fact, with the Liberals ready to finally rid themselves of their Quebec albatross, and we see a new paradigm that is exciting.
What I like about Hebert's analysis, Liberal fortunes aren't necessarily predicated on a wholesale re-think, as it relates to federalism. The issue is largely on the backburner, which means some tinkering or modernization of language, is all that may be required. The real opening, the Liberals policy agenda, with Harper cast aside, they can fill the void with ideas that are far more palatable to mainstream Quebec. The affinity was always there, but with the stink of sponsorship fading, a new leader without baggage and a hobbled competition, it can rise to the fore, the Liberal message completely saleable.
There's a ton of work to be done, by all accounts the party appartus is basically non-existent outside of traditional Liberal strongholds. That said, there is clearly a path available which could translate into real gains in Quebec, the first step in becoming relevant again. All you can ask for is opportunity, then it's a matter of what you do with it.