Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Liberals Expanded Appeal in Quebec?

The Liberal nomination news, covered ably here, shows some intriguing developments in Quebec. The Liberals under Ignatieff are attracting candidates that go beyond the usual "federalist" tag:
Lobbyist and former PQ ministerial advisor Johanne Brisson will be the Liberal candidate in the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent...

Brisson being a candidate is interesting, as it fulfills the second part of Denis Coderre saying that he was targeting "ex adéquistes and fatigued sovertigntists." Ex ADQ figures have already emerged in the figures of Claude Morin and others, but I believe Brisson is the first figure to emerge as a Liberal candidate with ties to the PQ/BQ.


Marc Giroux was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate in Mégantic – L'Érable, he will challenge the current Conservative Quebec lieutenant, Christian Paradis. Interestingly, and I hadn't seen this mentioned in any other articles about Giroux, he also has ties to the sovertignst movement, according to this he served on the executive of the regional association of the Parti Quebecois. Interesting, Coderre directly mentions Claude Morin and compares him to Giroux, with Coderre saying that (and this is my translation so francophones will excuse me if I don't get it exactly correct):

"Marc was not always Liberal, he followed a different path, which shows that we are an open and inclusive party. We need people like Marc Giroux, we need people like Claude Morin."

There is talk of more former PQ/ADQ supporters running under the Liberal banner, clearly something is afoot in Quebec. The simple reality, the Liberals can no longer simply rely on the traditional hardcore federalist vote if they want to win more seats. Ignatieff's posture seems attractive to non-traditional support, and could be the beginning of a "re-set" for the Liberals in Quebec.

I have no problem "flirting" with soft nationalists, nor do I see that as a sellout on historical considerations. To be blunt, the Liberal message has been tired and outdated for some time in Quebec, we either modernize the language and messenging or face forever relegation to limited areas. With waning Conservative fortunes, Ignatieff can fill the gap. What's encouraging, people obviously see something in his leadership that's attractive. Maybe, we're finally moving away from the Trudeau era mentality, because one thing is for certain- Quebecers largely did eons ago.


Anonymous said...

This isn't even remotely new. All any federal party has tried to do since 1984 in Quebec is flirt with soft nationalists. Terrible strategy. Terrible for the country. Terrible for the party.

Remember when Jean LaPierre was our Quebec lieutenant? Remember how he led a Liberal surge in Quebec and won Paul Martin a majority government? Niether do I.

Remember when Stephen Harper's masterplan was to perform the "French Kiss", and pander unceasingly to the ADQ and PQ nationalists? Remember how by doing so, he resurrected the Mulroney coalition of voters and won a majority government? Niether do I.

The only time the Liberals have ever won convincingly in Quebec was when they demonstrated the intellectual and testicular fortitude the match wits with the sovereigntists, rather than cede all the ground available to them.

The 'conventional wisdom' on how to win in Quebec is ludicrously ahistorical. Worse, it sets Canada on a slow death march from which there is no return. Ignatieff can do better than this.

Steve V said...

I think it's a ridiculous position to say this amounts to ceding all ground to sovereigntists. Such black and white nonsense, which is so outdated it's embarrassing to even entertain. Ignatieff is on recent record, in Quebec, saying no new poweres, Quebec already has what it needs to protect identity. The fact he can still attract these type of candidates, despite that assertion, is an attempt to get beyond the old divisional lines. I think a lot of people, on both sides, are tired of the same line in the sand arguments, there's opportunity for a new synthesis. If Ignatieff can speak on that ground, I say BRAVO about time.

The Liberal Scarf said...

I think Quebecois voters are moving somewhat into a different mindset when it comes to federal politics. A good example of this was Gilles Duceppe openly appealing for federalist voters to support the BQ to block Harper, with the BQ theme not being so much about an independant Quebec, but simply "protecting Quebec interests." Of course, the Parti Quebecois has to retain at least somewhat of an actively separatist mindset and rhetoric, since they are involved with the day to day management of the province, but I think the idea of trying appeal to Quebecois voters, either federalist or soverignist, that the Liberal Party is the best manager of Quebec's affairs and interests on the federal scene. This shifts the debate from the "national question" to the "national management question" and I think the Liberals can successfully beat the BQ if the question in Quebec is framed in such a fashion. This has the advantage of re-affirming the Liberals committment to federalism, by refusing to allow the BQ to make the Quebec election question about soverignty and nationalism, and instead deal with Quebecois as citizens of a province and a country which deserves to have its interests managed in the best way possible on the federal level, regardless of if individual voters consider themselves federalists or not.

Anonymous said...


Soft nationalists do help but Iggy's advantage in his fight against Harper has to be the "national unity" message.

Attracting ex- Pequistes encourages Harper to bomb the bridge. Ramp the anti-Quebec rhetoric harder to help the Bloc destroy Iggy.

Mind you, when the party is feeding crumbs in rural Quebec, a prominent candidate is better than a paper candidate. So it is a start, nevertheless.

Geordie Tom said...

Funny that when Wulrooney did this, the Liberals said it was selling Canada to separatists and they would never do it.A few years in the wilderness sure changes folks 'morals' doesn't it.

Gayle said...

I am actually Geordie Tom here. I don't like this.

Gayle said...

Wait - I am not Geordie Tom - but I am with him.

Someday I will remember that proofreading is my friend.

Steve V said...

"Funny that when Wulrooney did this, the Liberals said it was selling Canada to separatists and they would never do it.A few years in the wilderness sure changes folks 'morals' doesn't it."

Yes, because 25 YEARS AGO is just so relevant now. Gawd.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Quebecers are moving into a new mindset - and already have. I don't agree with courting pequists to support the Liberals. And Ignatieff is also on record as supporting a constitutional amendment to recognize Quebec as a nation. You can have an intellectual debate about this all you want. As others have already mentioned, the practical side of politics has already proven how stupid this approach is. But far be it from Denis Coderre to engage in something stupid.

Steve V said...

He's on record saying he won't reopen the constitution. Once you get up to speed, then we can have an "intellectual debate".

drake said...

Iggy doesn't respect the Trudeau federalist vision.

He has to tell us what his vision is.

Morgan said...

Ignatieff has stated that he is a "Pearsonian Liberal" - whatever that stands for.
So, you would have to go back about 50 years to see what he means by that I guess.
What was the attitude about Quebec back then? There was some problems with a radical group called the FLQ - terrorists wasn't there?

Steve V said...


So, Ignatieff is Pearson then, because he makes a reference regarding a completely UNRELATED point? Man, this is a boring, superficial...

Steve V said...

I don't understand why somebody has to respond to a 40 year old "vision", and I say that as a great admirer of Trudeau. Sometimes history is a progressive obstacle. The Quebec of the Trudeau era bears no resemblance to the "society" now. It's such a waste of time, failure to accept reality, conversation really.

I think Ignatieff has actually been quite clear on how he sees Quebec within the federation, how he sees Quebecers dual loyalities and how the old choice arguments are outdated. I fail to see the mystery.

ottlib said...

I would call myself a Trudeau Liberal but I have few problems with the approach Mr. Ignatieff is taking in Quebec.

The Trudeau era is long gone. His legacy is secure but the country has moved on with regard to how to govern the country in the new century.

Liberals better be certain that they move along with the rest of the country or they will just be left behind by it. Better yet, they could actually get out in front and lead Canadians in resolving the issues of the new century.

Steve V said...

"Better yet, they could actually get out in front and lead Canadians in resolving the issues of the new century."

Couldn't agree more.