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How to translate double-talk

Paul Wells on Stephen Harper’s Quebec strategy


 
How to translate double talk

Chris Wattie/Reuters

“The real lesson of Canadian history,” Stephen Harper told a Montreal audience, is “that while conservatives have come to power by exploiting a nationalist strategy in Quebec, such coalitions have never lasted very long. Indeed, they have ended in political disaster.”

Perhaps you will have guessed already that he didn’t say this recently.

“The broad lesson of history,” Harper told his Montreal audience—in January 2002—“is that Canada’s natural governing coalition always includes the federalist option in Quebec, not the nationalist one.” He called on the Canadian Alliance, which he was campaigning to lead, to “undertake the long-run work necessary to become a federalist option in Quebec acceptable to a significant number of Liberal as well as anti-Liberal voters.”

Then he became the leader of the Alliance and forgot all that stuff. He ran candidates like Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the most nationalist of Quebec Tories, in previously Bloc ridings. He passed the House of Commons motion calling “les Québécois” a nation, a move that provoked Michael Chong to resign as intergovernmental affairs minister.

His campaign and between-campaign advertising in Quebec has mostly spared the Bloc Québécois, even though any federalist can tell you the biggest problem for Quebec in national politics isn’t that it gives a dozen or so seats to the Liberals but that it routinely returns four times as many Bloc MPs.

And now, all of a sudden, there are signs Harper may be changing his strategy in Quebec.

He recruited Larry Smith, the congenial pro football manager and former Montreal Gazette publisher, to sit in the Senate while Smith prepares to run for the Commons in Montreal’s West Island. Smith’s star power is open to debate, but if he has any, it works mostly in English.

And last week the Jewish Tribune reported that Robert Libman, the founding leader of the defunct provincial English-rights Equality Party, was considering running for the Conservatives against Irwin Cotler in Mount Royal. Libman was also the mayor of Côte St. Luc for a while. He’s kind of a big deal. He’d need to be: while Cotler’s share of the popular vote has declined in each of the last two elections, he still beat his Conservative opponent by 10,000 votes in 2008.

I telephoned Libman, for perhaps the first time in 20 years, and he issued such an equivocal denial that none should call him a flip-flopper if he does run. “It is certainly not my immediate intention” to run, he said, adding, “I would certainly never slam the door.”

The Conservatives have indeed approached Libman. “I won’t say what level of the party, at this point.” He thinks Harper is such a strong supporter of Israel that Jewish voters, in this riding with a lot of Jewish voters, are taking a second look at the Conservatives. “There’s certainly a groundswell.” He said a lot of nice things about Cotler, but maintained that “a lot of people here feel he’s not in the right party.”

So mark Libman down as unlikely to run, but tempted. Obviously Mount Royal is a special case, because a party’s attitude toward Israel matters as much there as its attitude toward Quebec’s place in Canada. But Libman’s first foray into politics was all about anger at the failings of a nominally pro-Canadian party—the Quebec Liberals under Robert Bourassa. “Anglophones of Quebec are always caught out in the cold when it comes to federal elections,” he told me. “Liberals assume the anglophone vote is in their pocket.”

Like a lot of things, that’s been changing. The Liberal lead over the Conservatives in Montreal’s West Island was nearly 55 points in 2004. By 2008 it was “only” 30 points. That’s while the Conservatives’ attention was elsewhere, in the centre-right bubble around Quebec City. What if they concentrated on west end Montreal and the West Island suburbs with an explicitly pro-Canada pitch?

I’m afraid that for now, the question will have to remain hypothetical.

Perhaps you’ve seen the Conservatives’ new “Here for Canada” ads on TV. That’s because you’re watching in English. The slogan at the end of the Conservatives’ French-language ads is “Notre région au pouvoir,” our region in power.

So the Conservatives are here for Canada, or not, depending on where “here” is.

Two of the English-language ads evoke the menace of a coalition government composed of Liberals and New Democrats and propped up by the Bloc. But that idea is actually pretty popular in Quebec. Which may explain why none of the Conservatives’ French ads mentions the coalition.

Quebec federalists saved this country in two referendums when everyone else had screwed everything else up. They stood up for Canada when all the clever strategists would have told them that was no way to win votes. They know what double-talk sounds like. They can smell expediency a mile away.

Eight years ago Stephen Harper said he would build his conservative coalition with federalist Quebecers. He is flirting with the idea again. Perhaps he tells himself he is being subtle. Perhaps he did not expect anyone to notice that when he’s doing what matters to him most—tactics—his Canada stops in eastern Ontario and picks up again in New Brunswick. A younger Stephen Harper would have warned him against that.


 

How to translate double-talk

  1. Under Harper, provincial nationalism has grown and pan-Canadian identity has suffered. How many first ministers meetings has he held in 5 years? How much attention has been given inter-provincial relations (absent Mr. Chong's resignation)? From transport to trade to energy to industry to infrastructure, Harper has demonstrated no taste for efforts that CONNECT us as a nation. Harper's not here for Canada. He wants to cut us up into competing fiefdoms. Firewalls for everyone.

  2. Under Harper, provincial nationalism has grown and pan-Canadian identity has suffered. How many first ministers meetings has he held in 5 years? How much attention has been given inter-provincial relations (absent Mr. Chong's resignation)? From transport to trade to energy to industry to infrastructure, Harper has demonstrated no taste for efforts that CONNECT us as a nation. Harper's not here for Canada. He wants to cut us up into competing fiefdoms. Firewalls for everyone.

    • The measure of a nation`s unity is the number of first minister`s meetings held ?

      By 1995, after 10 years of meetings every few months, we should have totally pan-Canadian, inter-provincial related, and unified but we came within a few thousand votes of losing it all.

      • Canada isn't a nation but a confederation of several nations: English Canada, Quebec and the First Nations. We are divided not only by language but our perceptions of history. For the English, James Wolfe was a hero and his victory over Montcalme in 1759 a great moment in Canadian history. The French, on the other hand, see the Battle of Quebec as a terrible defeat. That's why Francophones in Quebec don't sing "Maple Leaf Forever" on St. John the Baptist Day. Then there are the First Nations. Each one of them has a different language and a different perception of history. Together with Sir Isaac Brock, the Indian chief Tecumseh may have been a saviour of Canada during the War of 1812, but where did it get the First Nations? They hold an acre of snow in the Arctic today. Since Canada united as a dominion in 1867, Canada has devoted most of its efforts to keeping from falling apart.

  3. For some time now polling in and around Quebec City looks very promising for the Tories, and according to recent CROP survey non-francophone support for the governing party is also noticeably on the rise throughout the province. Time will tell whether the Tory strategy is well founded.

  4. For some time now polling in and around Quebec City looks very promising for the Tories, and according to recent CROP survey non-francophone support for the governing party is also noticeably on the rise throughout the province. Time will tell whether the Tory strategy is well founded.

    • I was living in Quebec City from 2005 to 2008 and the flyers the CPC sent out were back then were an insult to anyone with half a brain. At elast the ones I kept getting talked about "voting Conservative to anger your parents" and other drivel of the sort.

      I contemplated voting for the CPC back in 2006 but they definitely lost my vote when I saw those flyers.

      • what part of Quebec were you in ? I've been here since 2003 – still here , quite involved in politics and have kids in school – I have never seen the flyers you describe … "voting Conservative to anger your parents" … ridiculous … are you sure they were 'official Tory flyers' … I have serious doubt …

    • Harper still has the hockey arena idea dangling and ready to be dropped during an election, which probably explains ANY rosy looking polls.

    • That's a load – who are you trying to kid? Are you crazy – Quebec City?

  5. What about the old Alliance Quebec party? When I attended meetings in the West Island back in the '80's there were mainly francophone who wanted their kids the choice of English school.

    The group had widespread grassroots volunteer activity in its early years. It formed at least 20 regional chapters, including 8 in the anglophone neighbourhoods of Montreal. The federal government subsidized AQ in an effort to promote minority official language groups in the province, providing it with most of AQ's budget ($1.4 million in 1986).[4] Similar funding was provided to French language groups outside Quebec. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_Quebec

  6. What about the old Alliance Quebec party? When I attended meetings in the West Island back in the '80's there were mainly francophone who wanted their kids the choice of English school.

    The group had widespread grassroots volunteer activity in its early years. It formed at least 20 regional chapters, including 8 in the anglophone neighbourhoods of Montreal. The federal government subsidized AQ in an effort to promote minority official language groups in the province, providing it with most of AQ's budget ($1.4 million in 1986).[4] Similar funding was provided to French language groups outside Quebec. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_Quebec

  7. Steve will adopt any position he feels will allow him to gain enough power to implement his libertarian agenda — if that means catering to federalists then so be it — if it means an alliance with the Bloc, then that's OK too.

  8. Steve will adopt any position he feels will allow him to gain enough power to implement his libertarian agenda — if that means catering to federalists then so be it — if it means an alliance with the Bloc, then that's OK too.

    • That's for dang sure. Did you know Stevie happens to be the latest incarnation of Machiavelli.

      • too bad, because Machiavelli was a better writer.

  9. I was living in Quebec City from 2005 to 2008 and the flyers the CPC sent out were back then were an insult to anyone with half a brain. At elast the ones I kept getting talked about "voting Conservative to anger your parents" and other drivel of the sort.

    I contemplated voting for the CPC back in 2006 but they definitely lost my vote when I saw those flyers.

  10. As one who supported the Progressive Conservative Party and the sad Reform/Alliance crew who now call themselves Conservites, I have decided to cast all my future federal ballots elsewhere. Please let me find a party that tells the truth and keeps its promises Sick of all of the crap.

  11. As one who supported the Progressive Conservative Party and the sad Reform/Alliance crew who now call themselves Conservites, I have decided to cast all my future federal ballots elsewhere. Please let me find a party that tells the truth and keeps its promises Sick of all of the crap.

    • Aha, my friend! You want to Vote Rhino! That's the only party I know of with full intention of keeping its' promises.

      Failing that, don't choose a party. Choose one of your local candidates. Ask all of them questions, including tough ones about issues where you don't agree with their party line.

      And don't be afraid of voting for someone you know is going to lose if they're the one who best reflects your positions.. remember, an election is the biggest poll we've got, so if enough people vote for a particular loser, even the winners will want to know how they can get some of that vote.

      • Some good advise!

        That last point really is an important one in the debate over voter subs – you might even call it a form of back door PR , made in Canada style.

        Didn't the rhinos only promise to not keep any of their promises? Loved it.

  12. Aha, my friend! You want to Vote Rhino! That's the only party I know of with full intention of keeping its' promises.

    Failing that, don't choose a party. Choose one of your local candidates. Ask all of them questions, including tough ones about issues where you don't agree with their party line.

    And don't be afraid of voting for someone you know is going to lose if they're the one who best reflects your positions.. remember, an election is the biggest poll we've got, so if enough people vote for a particular loser, even the winners will want to know how they can get some of that vote.

  13. "Perhaps you will have guessed already that he didn't say this recently"

    You guys have an office poll on what the expiry date on a SH statement is these days PWs? Would it be around about the same amount of time for MI to say something truly dumb – or is the pace even more frenetic these days?

  14. "Perhaps you will have guessed already that he didn't say this recently"

    You guys have an office poll on what the expiry date on a SH statement is these days PWs? Would it be around about the same amount of time for MI to say something truly dumb – or is the pace even more frenetic these days?

  15. Harper still has the hockey arena idea dangling and ready to be dropped during an election, which probably explains ANY rosy looking polls.

  16. Some good advise!

    That last point really is an important one in the debate over voter subs – you might even call it a form of back door PR , made in Canada style.

    Didn't the rhinos only promise to not keep any of their promises? Loved it.

  17. Not much difference between "Our region in power" and "The West wants in". It is NOT a separtiste appeal, but a positive nationaliste appeal, as was the western slogan.

    How is it different than Pearson recruiting the Three Wise Men?

  18. Not much difference between "Our region in power" and "The West wants in". It is NOT a separtiste appeal, but a positive nationaliste appeal, as was the western slogan.

    How is it different than Pearson recruiting the Three Wise Men?

    • i think you mean 'the 3 treasonist's".

  19. Offtopic: I just watched the “Canada-U.S.: Best Friends or Perfect Strangers?” roundtable on CPAC and it was a first-rate discussion with exceptional panelists. Keep up the great work!

  20. Offtopic: I just watched the “Canada-U.S.: Best Friends or Perfect Strangers?” roundtable on CPAC and it was a first-rate discussion with exceptional panelists. Keep up the great work!

    • Got a link?

        • Thanks muchly.

          Did you check it out yet? Agree with CR? Highlight?

          • I just finished watching now, and I highly, highly recommend it. Rare that everyone on a panel of that size is interesting. (I even found a new respect for the intellect of David Frum, who I cannot describe as my favorite person on earth.)

          • David Frum is definitely one of my favourite conservative commentators.

          • I did and agree with CR and you also, David Frum is my favourite conservative and I am also a big fan of
            Gary Doer, I feel that if he was NDP leader, the NDP could be a very healthy opposition!

  21. Got a link?

  22. Thanks muchly.

    Did you check it out yet? Agree with CR? Highlight?

  23. The measure of a nation`s unity is the number of first minister`s meetings held ?

    By 1995, after 10 years of meetings every few months, we should have totally pan-Canadian, inter-provincial related, and unified but we came within a few thousand votes of losing it all.

  24. Canada isn't a nation but a confederation of several nations: English Canada, Quebec and the First Nations. We are divided not only by language but our perceptions of history. For the English, James Wolfe was a hero and his victory over Montcalme in 1759 a great moment in Canadian history. The French, on the other hand, see the Battle of Quebec as a terrible defeat. That's why Francophones in Quebec don't sing "Maple Leaf Forever" on St. John the Baptist Day. Then there are the First Nations. Each one of them has a different language and a different perception of history. Together with Sir Isaac Brock, the Indian chief Tecumseh may have been a saviour of Canada during the War of 1812, but where did it get the First Nations? They hold an acre of snow in the Arctic today. Since Canada united as a dominion in 1867, Canada has devoted most of its efforts to keeping from falling apart.

  25. Come onnnnnnn, Fox News North

  26. Come onnnnnnn, Fox News North

  27. It's time for the New Democrats and the Liberals to unite. The NDP has leaders like Jack Layton and Olivia Wong, but no large following, except at the provincial level. The Liberals appeal to a broader spectrum than just the NDP's pro-labour constituency, but leaders like Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae draw a big yawn, and we would all like to forget Stephane Dion. In 1995, there were the Progressive Conservatives, the National Alliance and the Reform party on the right. Today, those parties make up the Conservative Party of Canada, and they could win a majority in the next election. Unity hasn't hurt the parties on the right.

  28. It's time for the New Democrats and the Liberals to unite. The NDP has leaders like Jack Layton and Olivia Wong, but no large following, except at the provincial level. The Liberals appeal to a broader spectrum than just the NDP's pro-labour constituency, but leaders like Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae draw a big yawn, and we would all like to forget Stephane Dion. In 1995, there were the Progressive Conservatives, the National Alliance and the Reform party on the right. Today, those parties make up the Conservative Party of Canada, and they could win a majority in the next election. Unity hasn't hurt the parties on the right.

  29. Ahem ahem ahem. Why no mention of what it would do to the CPC's chances in QC if they ran a guy from the EQUALITY PARTY?!?! That's the whole point of this bit of news! But why would Harper snuggle up to a few anglo Montreal ridings when he thus risks half a dozen in Quebec City? Is that really beyond the scope of the writer's analytical powers?

  30. i think you mean 'the 3 treasonist's".

  31. I wondr if out of quebec people think the bastrache commission was someting serious cause here almoste everybody know for a fact that was an linchage and an big sad joke like 90% of people in quebec ??

    wath do you think do you think that was "impartial" lol"
    And quebecois like corruption???

    I really wonder

  32. I wondr if out of quebec people think the bastrache commission was someting serious cause here almoste everybody know for a fact that was an linchage and an big sad joke like 90% of people in quebec ??

    wath do you think do you think that was "impartial" lol"
    And quebecois like corruption???

    I really wonder

  33. bref how to translate double"fact"-talk

    You are going to really like the bastarache big fat lies..

    With big fat liberal "li…laywer"s"
    4 of them bastrache included..

  34. bref how to translate double"fact"-talk

    You are going to really like the bastarache big fat lies..

    With big fat liberal "li…laywer"s"
    4 of them bastrache included..

  35. what part of Quebec were you in ? I've been here since 2003 – still here , quite involved in politics and have kids in school – I have never seen the flyers you describe … "voting Conservative to anger your parents" … ridiculous … are you sure they were 'official Tory flyers' … I have serious doubt …

  36. I just finished watching now, and I highly, highly recommend it. Rare that everyone on a panel of that size is interesting. (I even found a new respect for the intellect of David Frum, who I cannot describe as my favorite person on earth.)

  37. David Frum is definitely one of my favourite conservative commentators.

  38. If I was Harper I wouldn't be photographed being all buddy-buddy with that corrupt Quebec bag man!

  39. If I was Harper I wouldn't be photographed being all buddy-buddy with that corrupt Quebec bag man!

  40. That's for dang sure. Did you know Stevie happens to be the latest incarnation of Machiavelli.

  41. I have thought for a long time that if Harper is in power long enough, Canada is going to break up — and he doesn't care. He cares more about Israel than he does about Canada.

    People who want him because of his attitude towards Israel have a lot of money – they're wealthy. Wealthy enough that they can be frivolous enough to watch Canada break up. It's going to be those who truly love Canada, and not some other country who will have to save it.

    He talked about how much he loves Canada. He's a liar.

  42. I have thought for a long time that if Harper is in power long enough, Canada is going to break up — and he doesn't care. He cares more about Israel than he does about Canada.

    People who want him because of his attitude towards Israel have a lot of money – they're wealthy. Wealthy enough that they can be frivolous enough to watch Canada break up. It's going to be those who truly love Canada, and not some other country who will have to save it.

    He talked about how much he loves Canada. He's a liar.

  43. That's a load – who are you trying to kid? Are you crazy – Quebec City?

  44. I did and agree with CR and you also, David Frum is my favourite conservative and I am also a big fan of
    Gary Doer, I feel that if he was NDP leader, the NDP could be a very healthy opposition!

  45. Thanks Paul for focusing on this most important of topics.
    Harper's new game plan is to get his majority by making sure the Liberals loose seats in Quebec while his coalition of various Conservative groups wins big in the Toronto 905 region.
    Harper will grant millions of Canadian tax dollars to Quebec City for an arena now that his political ally and financial supporter, the Peladeau Corporation gang, has said that it will put some millions on the table. This will hold the ten Conservative seats in the Quebec City region.
    Harper is now attempting, by moving on to the Island of Montreal and into the Laval City with Larry Smith, to destroy what is left of the old bastion of the Quebec wing of the National Liberal Party. Harper is also dangling a huge carrot, the spending of billions of Canadians tax dollars over the next thirty years on Quebec's highly subsidized aerospace industry located in around Montreal (and Toronto) via new F – 35 and various other contracts to modernize the small Canadian Armed Forces.
    What Harper is managing to do by using the remaining federal taxing and spending power — that is, what is left of the federal taxing powers after the huge cuts to corporate taxes and the cuts to the GST and other subsidies to middle class Canadians via their tax credits — to consolidate the political realignment that was set in motion by his Conservative Party's gaining office in 2006 and winning a snap re-election in 2008.
    If Harper wins in 2011 or 2012, he will have killed off what is left of the Liberal Party's bastion in Quebec and weakened its new base around Toronto. Harper will then face a totally dysfunctional trio of opposition parties.
    Harper will then use patronage in ways that Jean Chrétien could only have dreamed of to buy even more votes and seats in Quebec. The renewed threat of a secessionist Parti Québécois will force Harper to do what Pearson, Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien, and Martin did – succumb to the political blackmail of Québécois for their votes!!
    WOW! The paradoxes of Canadian politics.
    And this for a Western politician who denounced all federal parties for succumbing to this sort of blackmail and who vowed that if the Reformers ever took office it would be their way or the doorway for the Québécois nationalists and secessionists. I hear the Mulroneyites chuckling loudly in the background as they watch all of this unfold.

  46. Thanks Paul for focusing on this most important of topics.
    Harper's new game plan is to get his majority by making sure the Liberals loose seats in Quebec while his coalition of various Conservative groups wins big in the Toronto 905 region.
    Harper will grant millions of Canadian tax dollars to Quebec City for an arena now that his political ally and financial supporter, the Peladeau Corporation gang, has said that it will put some millions on the table. This will hold the ten Conservative seats in the Quebec City region.
    Harper is now attempting, by moving on to the Island of Montreal and into the Laval City with Larry Smith, to destroy what is left of the old bastion of the Quebec wing of the National Liberal Party. Harper is also dangling a huge carrot, the spending of billions of Canadians tax dollars over the next thirty years on Quebec's highly subsidized aerospace industry located in around Montreal (and Toronto) via new F – 35 and various other contracts to modernize the small Canadian Armed Forces.
    What Harper is managing to do by using the remaining federal taxing and spending power — that is, what is left of the federal taxing powers after the huge cuts to corporate taxes and the cuts to the GST and other subsidies to middle class Canadians via their tax credits — to consolidate the political realignment that was set in motion by his Conservative Party's gaining office in 2006 and winning a snap re-election in 2008.
    If Harper wins in 2011 or 2012, he will have killed off what is left of the Liberal Party's bastion in Quebec and weakened its new base around Toronto. Harper will then face a totally dysfunctional trio of opposition parties.
    Harper will then use patronage in ways that Jean Chrétien could only have dreamed of to buy even more votes and seats in Quebec. The renewed threat of a secessionist Parti Québécois will force Harper to do what Pearson, Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien, and Martin did – succumb to the political blackmail of Québécois for their votes!!
    WOW! The paradoxes of Canadian politics.
    And this for a Western politician who denounced all federal parties for succumbing to this sort of blackmail and who vowed that if the Reformers ever took office it would be their way or the doorway for the Québécois nationalists and secessionists.

    • "What Harper is managing to do by using the remaining federal taxing and spending power" I think you mean to say 'federal borrowing power,' otherwise, a plausible set of predictions.

  47. What political pundit has to say above, may in some ways be true.

    What is for certain though is that there will be no Liberals in power, no illegal brown envelopes stuffed with money being handed out to Liberal party faithful and hangers-on.

    No illegal payments of millions to corrupt Liberal affiliated advertising and lobbying executives. No forcing senior federal employees in high positions to make illegal loans to business associates of prominent Liberal politicians.

    Now the Liberal power structure has been fatally wounded and Canada appears quite comfortable with life under a Conservative leader. The Liberals do indeed have to start over, rebuild from the beginnings at a grass roots level where everyone is considered equal. Unfortunately that may still be a pipedream because with the same old Liberal MP's in place, we know from experience who feels 'entitled to their entitlements'. I suspect that the fatal wound does not hurt enough yet.

  48. What political pundit has to say above, may in some ways be true.

    What is for certain though is that there will be no Liberals in power, no illegal brown envelopes stuffed with money being handed out to Liberal party faithful and hangers-on.

    No illegal payments of millions to corrupt Liberal affiliated advertising and lobbying executives. No forcing senior federal employees in high positions to make illegal loans to business associates of prominent Liberal politicians.

    Now the Liberal power structure has been fatally wounded and Canada appears quite comfortable with life under a Conservative leader. The Liberals do indeed have to start over, rebuild from the beginnings at a grass roots level where everyone is considered equal. Unfortunately that may still be a pipedream because with the same old Liberal MP's in place, we know from experience who feels 'entitled to their entitlements'. I suspect that the fatal wound does not hurt enough yet.

    • That is true, but those weren't the first brown envelopes stuffed with cash in Canadian political history (does the sum $300,000 ring any bells?) and they likely won't be the last.

  49. Harper has always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe never has to balance of the interests of other Canadian regions nor pretend that he will achieve power. This is why demonizing minor arts cuts were so effective ("you see, he hates our culture").

    I think Harper is trying another strategy – hold on to his Quebec City area seats ("notre region au pouvoir") and push towards a national majority through the Toronto suburbs. He is perhaps being opportunistic in exploiting a recent Liberal decline in West Montreal, which may be an unexpected development due to Ignatieff's failing leadership – recall Denis Coderre's demotion. There is a chance that the Conservatives may be able to make headway against the Liberals in a few West-end Montreal seats that were until recently thought of as Liberal fortresses. Especially if he can convince Montrealers that the Liberals are going to lose nationally so, if they want to be on the winning side (and if they want nice F-35 related contracts for Montreal's aerospace industry), then it is in their interest to elect some Conservatives. Hence the sudden entree of Larry Smith on the Montreal federal scene.

    Some success in the 514 would be a nice bonus, however, it's not the main game. The main game is crushing what's left of the Liberals in the West and scooping up a dozen or so new seats in the 905 and even the 416.

    But if the Conservatives can win Vaughan, why not Mount Royal?

  50. Harper has always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe never has to balance of the interests of other Canadian regions nor pretend that he will achieve power. This is why demonizing minor arts cuts were so effective ("you see, he hates our culture").

    I think Harper is trying another strategy – hold on to his Quebec City area seats ("notre region au pouvoir") and push towards a national majority through the Toronto suburbs. He is perhaps being opportunistic in exploiting a recent Liberal decline in West Montreal, which may be an unexpected development due to Ignatieff's failing leadership – recall Denis Coderre's demotion. There is a chance that the Conservatives may be able to make headway against the Liberals in a few West-end Montreal seats that were until recently thought of as Liberal fortresses. Especially if he can convince Montrealers that the Liberals are going to lose nationally so, if they want to be on the winning side (and if they want nice F-35 related contracts for Montreal's aerospace industry), then it is in their interest to elect some Conservatives. Hence the sudden entree of Larry Smith on the Montreal federal scene.

    Some success in the 514 would be a nice bonus, however, it's not the main game. The main game is crushing what's left of the Liberals in the West and scooping up a dozen or so new seats in the 905 and even the 416.

    But if the Conservatives can win Vaughan, why not Mount Royal?

    • "Harper has always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe never has to balance of the interests of other Canadian regions nor pretend that he will achieve power. This is why demonizing minor arts cuts were so effective ("you see, he hates our culture"). "

      THAT is the only issue MacLeans doesn't want to talk about.

    • Harper has also always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe is the more compelling public speaker and better debater (in both languages), and as a result he is more effective on many issues, not just cultural funding.

  51. "Harper has always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe never has to balance of the interests of other Canadian regions nor pretend that he will achieve power. This is why demonizing minor arts cuts were so effective ("you see, he hates our culture"). "

    THAT is the only issue MacLeans doesn't want to talk about.

  52. westmalle is right on:

    THIS is the issue:

    ""Harper has always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe never has to balance of the interests of other Canadian regions nor pretend that he will achieve power. This is why demonizing minor arts cuts were so effective ("you see, he hates our culture"). "

  53. ""Harper has always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe never has to balance of the interests of other Canadian regions nor pretend that he will achieve power. This is why demonizing minor arts cuts were so effective ("you see, he hates our culture"). "

  54. westmalle is right on:

    THIS is the issue:

    ""Harper has always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe never has to balance of the interests of other Canadian regions nor pretend that he will achieve power. This is why demonizing minor arts cuts were so effective ("you see, he hates our culture"). "

  55. ""Harper has always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe never has to balance of the interests of other Canadian regions nor pretend that he will achieve power. This is why demonizing minor arts cuts were so effective ("you see, he hates our culture"). "

  56. too bad, because Machiavelli was a better writer.

  57. "What Harper is managing to do by using the remaining federal taxing and spending power" I think you mean to say 'federal borrowing power,' otherwise, a plausible set of predictions.

  58. That is true, but those weren't the first brown envelopes stuffed with cash in Canadian political history (does the sum $300,000 ring any bells?) and they likely won't be the last.

  59. Harper has also always been at a disadvantage against Duceppe because Duceppe is the more compelling public speaker and better debater (in both languages), and as a result he is more effective on many issues, not just cultural funding.

  60. RE: Sue's Comment
    Your highly moralistic approach to politics is incredibly naive, idealistic and fraught with a great deal of self-righteousness!
    You should read the history of corruption in politics along with the history of self-righteous politicians like Harper who achieve power through 'purity in politics' campaigns and then went on behave much like, if not more like, the very politicians they denounced. The histories of all societies are replete with such behaviour. The use of 'morality in politics' campaigns is very successful because these sort of campaigns, like ones based on race, class, or gender, play to the crass instincts of largely uninformed voters.
    Does your take on the Liberal Party and government mean that the moment the Harper government is caught with its hands in the till (and that moment will arrive sooner than later as Harper is quite willing to admit) that Canadians should call for the destruction of the Conservative Party and send the Prime Minister to jail for life? It appears so.
    I doubt very much that most Reformers/Alliance/Conservative MPs and militants, now that they have their hands on power, would accept your take on their prospective future.
    Thousands of Reformers and Conservatives have gladly been offered and have taken patronage appointments, small, medium and large, and they are desperate to remain in office so these sorts of patronage positions, paid for by my and your taxes, are available to them and only to them.
    Your call for a pious and moralistic politics of revenge and retribution is very destructive and self-serving.
    Harper trumped up the sponsorship scandal way beyond its importance and then road his hobby horse to power.
    He immediately forgot about the scandal in any useful way and he told the Gommery Commissioner to stick his recommendations where the 'sun don't shine.'
    For crass political purposes Harper passed a highly useless ( as he intended) accountability Act to play to his base and make voters think he has solved the problem of corruption.
    Harper's use of Canadian taxpayers hard earned money to undertake a never ending and highly partisan spending spree boondoggle, know euphemistically as stimulus spending, has the formal cover of Parliament but it is a highly effective form of corruption. He used to denounce all the Liberal and Conservative governments for doing the very same thing.
    When confronted with reminders of his past statements, Harper merely shrugs his shoulders and proclaims defiantly that 'circumstances' – namely the holding on to power and the paying off of his close supporters – compel him to behave no differently than all former Liberal or Conservative leaders and their governments.
    The Liberal Party has paid a very heavy price for the corrupt behaviour of a few of its individuals in Quebec. It deserved to be defeated. It does not deserve to be buried. The Liberal Party served Canada and Canadians very well for over a hundred years and it still can, and should be allowed to, serve Canada and Canadians very well over the next hundred years.
    For Harper, with the help of the naive and self-serving NDP, to use the trumped up sponsorship crisis to kill off the Liberal party because, as a centrist party, it stands in the way of his attempt to realign Canadian national politics according to his preferred model — a very hard right-of-centre Conservative party versus a 'radical' socialist party on the left, is very self-serving and quite hypocritical.
    Harper and Flanagan have always contended, with some justification, that this new realignment will guarantee that their Conservative Party will be Canada's only governing party for the next century.
    For the sake of Canadians and Canadian democracy, we do not need, nor do we want, a single Conservative Party led by an autocrat to rule over Canada with an iron fist for the next century.
    Such a one Party and one government reality would guarantee, as it did in Japan and Mexico for over several decades, the worst forms of institutionalized corruption, corruption far worse than anything that has occurred in Canada since 1867.
    Beware of what you wish for, you just might get your wish but at a tremendous cost.

  61. PoliticalPundit warned:
    "Beware of what you wish for, you just might get your wish but at a tremendous cost."

    Hmm…..tinfoil a little tight bud?

  62. PoliticalPundit warned:
    "Beware of what you wish for, you just might get your wish but at a tremendous cost."

    Hmm…..tinfoil a little tight bud?

  63. PoliticalPundit espouses his belief in immortality:
    "For the sake of Canadians and Canadian democracy, we do not need, nor do we want, a single Conservative Party led by an autocrat to rule over Canada with an iron fist for the next century."

    Yep, and Harper will be just as much a tyrant at age 151, as he is today.

    Scarey stuff.

  64. PoliticalPundit espouses his belief in immortality:
    "For the sake of Canadians and Canadian democracy, we do not need, nor do we want, a single Conservative Party led by an autocrat to rule over Canada with an iron fist for the next century."

    Yep, and Harper will be just as much a tyrant at age 151, as he is today.

    Scarey stuff.

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