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Quebec

Justin Trudeau’s lacklustre reception outside Ontario, B.C. should worry Liberals: Hébert

Outside of Ontario and British Columbia, the Liberal leadership race isn’t making much of an impact

Meanwhile, the leadership campaign is largely a non-event in Quebec and a marginal one across the Prairies.

Coming as it does after months of campaigning, the tepid Quebec response has to be worrisome for the Liberals.

Besides Trudeau, two other well-known Quebecers — former astronaut Marc Garneau and former federal justice minister Martin Cauchon — are in the running.

But in spite of that, most polls show that the federal battle for francophone Quebec remains a two-way fight between the leading NDP and the Bloc Québécois, with the Liberals running a distant third.

Quebecers’ participation in the leadership campaign is on par with the party’s tepid standing in voting intentions.

With the drive to recruit supporters for the April 14 vote completed, its results suggest that the campaign has done little to energize the Liberals in Quebec.

According to a riding-by-riding breakdown obtained by the Globe and Mail, Quebec accounts for 16 of 27 ridings with less than 200 voters eligible to participate in next month’s leadership vote. Trudeau’s riding of Papineau is the only Quebec riding to boast more than 2,000 sign-ups.

So what will be the impact?

With Trudeau in the campaign, the third-place Liberals have enjoyed a disproportional amount of mostly positive media attention for months on end. It looks like it will take a lot more than that to put them back on the map of regions such as Quebec and the Prairies in which the party has become chronically weak.

If the past is any indication, popularity and the successful signing up of scores of non-paying supporters will not do the job — or at least not for long enough.
The precipitous 1993 election decline of the Progressive Conservatives under Kim Campbell demonstrated that fundamentals eventually reassert themselves, even in the face of an initially popular new leader.

In the past, a demonstrated capacity to recruit leadership supporters has not always translated into more support in the ballot box.

In 2005, a solid recruitment campaign allowed André Boisclair to beat Pauline Marois to the leadership of the Parti Québécois.

Like Trudeau, Boisclair was a big hit with younger voters and like the Liberal favourite he seduced much of his party’s aging establishment into believing that he could connect it with a new generation of voters.

Two years later, Boisclair led the PQ to its poorest showing in three decades.

A superficial cut?

Chantal Hébert on whether or not Claude Patry’s defection to the Bloc Quebecois is a big deal or minor distraction to the NDP

Self-interest is almost always a factor in the decision to cross the floor but the Hill can also be a lonely place and more than one MP has become estranged from his party for lack of camaraderie or, in the case of French-language MPs, linguistic isolation.

It is too early to tell whether jumping ship will improve Patry’s chances of surviving the next election. By then, the Parti Québécois could be back in opposition in the National Assembly, or going through pre-referendum manoeuvres on the basis of a governing majority.

Jonquière—Alma has been out of the Bloc fold for the better part of a decade. The riding switched to the Conservatives before falling to the NDP. It can no longer be considered a sovereigntist stronghold.

What is certain is that Patry is going back to his comfort zone. His decision to run under the NDP banner in 2011 pitted him against the Bloc-aligned local union leadership and his spell under a federalist banner apparently did not dent his sovereigntist convictions.

Perspectives on the so-called unity debate are strikingly different in the federal capital and in the nationalist stronghold of the Saguenay. The transition from one venue to the other often involves a rude awakening.

In the immediate, Patry’s defection looks more like a paper cut than a puncture wound for the NDP. There is not currently on the Quebec radar a simmering anti-NDP backlash over the issue of referendum rules, or solid signs of an imminent revival of the Bloc Québécois.

But Patry’s move is still a stark reminder to his former New Democrat colleagues from Quebec that the luck of the draw has more to do with their positions in the Commons than their merits.

With only a few exceptions, there will be no safe NDP seats in Quebec in 2015 and indeed precious few safe seats of any kind at all.

While the NDP membership numbers improved to 12,300 during the federal leadership race, there are not a lot of NDP members in Quebec.  There are actually more NDP members in Saskatchewan than there is in Quebec despite the population difference which makes me wonder if the NDP can hold on to their gains in Quebec, especially is Justin Trudeau’s numbers hold and with a resurgent PQ holding power (and assuming providing organizational support).  My feeling right now is that you could see Quebec losing most of the seats it gained in Quebec in the next election and the reduced to third place in the House of Commons.

I don’t think Patry’s defection is a serious threat to Mulcair but the bigger problem for the NDP is building the political machine needed to hold these seats.

The Best & Worst Political Strategies of 2012

I am really late on this one but it’s a great segment, including the world political strategists of 2012.

Rethinking Le Plateau-Mont-Royal (and how to do municipal politics)

A good article on Luc Fernandez, Montreal city councillor and mayor of Le Plateau-Mont-Royal

Luc Ferrandez’s last bicycle was a Kona, a sturdy model with thick tires, ideal for hauling heavy loads. During his 2009 campaign as the Projet Montréal candidate for the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, he would hook it to a trailer piled with a laptop, a projector, a collapsible screen, and (this being Montreal) a couple of bottles of rosé. After setting up his equipment next to a café terrace, he would distribute paper cups and launch a PowerPoint slide show of streets and squares in Copenhagen, Paris, and Madrid, as well as historical photos of local boulevards, all unencumbered by traffic. He figures it was these partys de trottoir, or sidewalk parties—during which he made the case that Montreal could be as clean, green, and safe as any place in Europe—that won him the mayoralty of the city’s most populous district. His mountain bike, alas, didn’t survive the campaign.

“I was having a discussion with a citizen,” recalls Ferrandez. “I left my bike against a wall, unlocked. When I came back an hour later, it was gone.” These days, his main mode of transportation is an Opus, which has the upright handlebars and broad saddle of a bike you would expect to find leaning against a canal-side railing in Amsterdam.

I like his philosophy

“I accept that some people think I’m the devil!” Ferrandez shouted over his shoulder, making a right onto rue de Brébeuf. “For them, the Plateau doesn’t exist. It is just a place to be driven through. I don’t give a shit about these people. They’ve abandoned the idea that humans can live together.”

Ferrandez’s vision of what the borough is, and could be, seems almost exalted. “The Plateau is an Italian cathedral. It’s a forest. It’s something to protect, something sacred. I don’t want it to become a place where people come to live in a condo with triple-glazed windows for a couple of years. This has to be a place where people can be comfortable walking to the bakery, walking to school, walking to the park—where they want to stay to raise a family.”

Contextless Links

Brad Wall on ProFootballTalk

Charest’s second salary

Quebec Premier Hon. Jean Charest There is an article in the Montreal Gazette over the Premier Jean Charest’s second salary of $75,000 by the Quebec Liberal Party.  I am not going to pass judgment on it but I do have a quick question.  Aren’t many party leaders paid salaries in addition to their jobs as MP/MLA and often times Leader of the Opposition.  I think I remember reading that John Turner was given extra money by the Liberals while he was in Opposition as was Brian Mulroney (and I think the Tories paid for some Mulroney expenses while he was Prime Minister).  Isn’t it kind of normal (or at least acceptable) that party leaders are paid a salary by the party, or does that stop when one is elected Premier/Prime Minister?

Does anyone know if other party leaders get a salary in today’s day and age?