Hello Chris. Happy to be doing this chat on the first day of the Quebec provincial election.
Yes, Liberal Leader Jean Charest dissolved the National Assembly only about 40 minutes ago.
Let's get to the first reader question.
The chances of a Liberal victory are about even-odds, I'd guess. Yes, corruption scandals have hurt the Liberals, but the PQ isn't exactly beloved, leader Pauline Marois is unpopular, and the new Coalition Avenir Quebec is, well, new. As for whether I think one party should win, I leave that to Quebec voters to decide.
The Harper government will watch the election closely, without interfering at all. The federal Conservatives won't want to be seen as intervening in provincial politics. That said, of course, a PQ win would make life more difficult. But the Tories are more interested in whether there is any appetite in Quebec for conservative economic solutions to that province's enormous financial troubles. So they will watch the progress of the CAQ with great interest.
If the CAQ does well,it could lead to a minority government situation. Because of its platform of ignoring sovereignty to focus on economic challenges, the CAQ is ideologically closer to the Liberals, and would probably support them. I don't know how Quebec Solidaire will fare. Not well, I suspect.
Never, is the best guess. Even if the PQ wins, there is no strong support for sovereignty right now among the majority of the Quebec population. Another referendum would damage an already-fragile economy. And the Clarity Act would make that referendum harder to win. So if I had to bet, I'd say there won't be one in this decade. It's a bet I'd love to win.
Gord, se my reply to Mkhan.
It has to do with Quebec Inc., a deeply entrenched notion that the Quebec economy and culture are linked. Outside of Quebec, if the Americans wanted to buy a Canadian hardware company, they'd buy it. It's hardware, for crying out loud. But the Charest government is worried about being seen as weak in defence of Quebec interests. There are fears an American buyer would use American rather than Quebec supplyers. So the Liberals are proposing buying shares to block the sale. Nationalizing the hardware sector of your economy. This only makes sense in Quebec.
I guess the followup question is - do you think the Liberals would have done the same thing if they weren't headed into an election?
It's a good question, Chris. A Liberal government, coming off an election win, might have let the sale go through to show it was serious about bringing market reforms to Quebec Inc. But on the eve of an election, that was politically impossible. A PQ government would never allow the sale.
Well Jean Charest is certainly counting on it to make a difference. He is a superb campaigner. He's clearly calling this election in the doldrums of summer to dampen interest in the race. Then he hopes to outcampaign Ms. Marois, shoring up support from whoever is interested. It's pretty opportunistic, but when you're down the the polls and seeking a fourth mandate, you do what you gotta do.
Domininique, I think that is a most astute assessment, and thank you for it. Of course, as you mention, disenchantment with status quo status bearers lay behind the NDP's remarkable surge in the last federal election. The question is whether there will be a surge this time, and if there is, who will benefit from it. I don't see one happening, frankly, but then I didn't see the NDP surge coming either.
Oh that would have to be the collective sense of nation. It's something that English Canadians just don't get. English Canada is not bound by a shared culture, a present deeply informed by its past, the legacy of being a linguistic minority struggleing to preserve language and culture on an Anglo continent, and the residual scars of defeat--something that British, Americans and English Canadians have never experienced. This lies behind the communitarian response to external challenges--the need to stick together, to protect the French family at whatever cost. And it is sometimes a very high cost.
Thats a good question, which is another way of saying I don't have an answer. I don't think there will be huge protests, because student leaders fear they would then define the election, driving opposition to their demands to the Liberals. But some kind of protests, even if smaller, are likely to happen. If any vandalism results, it could galvanize the debate.
Rule of thumb: The bigger and noisier and messier the protests, the better for the Liberals.
My guess is it props up the Liberals on a bill-by-bill basis, which means another election in a year and a half or so. I don't see how it would be in the CAQ's interest to join in a formal coaltion with the Liberals. And they are ideologically far from the PQ.
Thanks, Alfrenz! I'm sure he appreciates that.
And thanks to all of you for joining in. We're going to wrap up now. But we will have lots more coverage and debate over the month as the campaign ramps up.
I'm with you, Alfrenz. Daniel is the must-read on this story. Thanks, everyone, for a good discussion.