Monday, July 31, 2006

Snubbing Ontario Could Be Costly

Flipping Ontario The Bird Could Cost Harper

Remember those early days of the Conservative government when Harper met Charest numerous times, yet could find just precious small time for the premier of Canada's most populous province, while attending a Tory fundraiser? Harper Snubs Ontario, read most headlines across the province.

Now it looks like Ontario could be important again.
"Harper has staked much of his political fortunes on gains in Quebec and on his promise to make federalism work there.

If he fails to satisfy Quebec Premier Jean Charest, it will allow nationalists to crow about the failure of federalism, and fuel the separatist cause, a nightmare scenario for Harper and Charest, both of whom will likely face the electorate in the next year or so.

Quebec's strong Lebanese and Arab community condemns Harper's recent support for Israel in the Mideast crisis, and warns he cannot count on their support.

Quebecers are also the least supportive of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan.

So most observers think the Tories will need to win more ridings in Ontario, where they now hold 40 of 106 seats.

Premier Dalton McGuinty hints that Harper could pay a political price in Ontario if he meets only Quebec's demands on the fiscal imbalance.

What should McGuinty do if Harper suddenly wants to 'be nice'?

Down in Quebec

According to the latest polls, Harper's chances of majority government have taken a huge hit by low polls from Quebec, stemming from his support of Israel. The interesting fact for me is that while the Tories are reported to be down to 23%, the BQ has surged to 43%.

Why did the votes not go to the Liberals? I interpret it as soft federalists going to the BQ because they see the Liberals not likely to win the next election. I predict that if, by midway through the next election campaign, the Liberals look favourites to win, the Conservative support in Quebec will bleed further (as federalists look to back the winner and abandon a sinking Tory ship) while those voters flirting with the BQ will return to the Liberal fold.



SouthernOntarioan said...

Be careful though, although the majority of Quebecers oppose things like Afghanistan etc.. there is still about ~30-40 that do tend towards the 'conservative' viewpoint.

Those are the votes that Harper wants to get.

In any case, a single poll doesn't mean much. Think about when two polling companies came out with the same question on Afghanistan and got two completely different results over the same time period.

Statistically, I think Canada is in for a long run of minority governments.

Anh Khoi Do said...

Your opinion is very well written, but you don't mention that the reason why the Liberals are not necessarily appreciated by a few Quebeccers, it's because the government of Jean Chr├ętien and then Paul Martin, often took unilateral decisions on the distribution of money. Furthermore, it's needless to say that these actions from the Liberals, who form a very centralistic political party for some Quebeccers, really shocked some people in Quebec and most of the support for the Liberals in Quebec comes from the ethnic groups. All in all, the Conservatives, even though they're not always appreciated by some Quebeccers, are regarded as people who advocates a more flexible federalism unlike the Liberals.