Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Break! (Updated)

So begins another week in Ottawa, and another season. It's autumn! Soon the leaves will be changing colours, the temperatures will be pleasantly dropping (I loathe the heat), and our government will get back to work. After all, nothing says fall like the sitting of Parliament.

Except this week, that is. Parliament is taking a brief week-long recess to recover from the huffing-and-puffing of last week. Actually, I'm not really sure why Parliament is on break this week. I'm thinking it has more to do with the G-20 meeting and less to do with Rosh Hashanah, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were either one. An internet search could not reveal the answer - if you know, please comment.

The Prime Minister will be using this week to strut his stuff at the G20. It certainly isn't as glamorous as the G8, but pretty good nevertheless. I just hope he makes it on time for the group photo. A few handshakes with President Barack Obama, a couple pats on the back from Silvio Berlusconi, and maybe some useful talks with India and China. A few good photo ops, a little less pressure from the situation in Ottawa. Could be a good week.

Meanwhile, Michael Ignatieff will be taking the opportunity to expound on his economic plans for Canada. The Toronto Star has reported a little on the speech he is supposed to make today. Apparently he is giving some time to growing markets in India and China, something he touched upon in his foreign policy speech from last week and has mentioned in his TV ads. I'm guessing he won't go into specifics - it is a speech after all - but it should give us some indication as to what will be in the Liberal electoral platform.

Jack Layton will undoubtedly use this week to patch up some of the holes his plan to support the government has created. This about-face cannot have occurred without repercussions, and the week-off will give Layton and his caucus time to figure out what to do when Parliament resumes next week. Will the NDP support the government long enough to pass the EI-reform bill? Will they vote confidence or not on the Liberal motion? We're hearing things about how labour groups across the country are coming out against the proposed reforms, which will certainly make it more difficult for the NDP to continue supporting the government.

Gilles Duceppe will bide his time, as he is in the most comfortable position of all the leaders. His party is doing well (enough) in the polls and he is on solid footing evaluating each motion and bill one at a time. He doesn't have too much manoeuvering to do, except maybe to turn the screws on the NDP who is a competitor for a few votes in Montreal.

Speaking of which, there is a provincial by-election in Rousseau today, a Quebec riding northeast of Montreal. It has been held by François Legault since 1999, and has been held by the Parti Québécois since 1994. It's a sovereigntist region, having voting 63% in favour of independence in 1995, and as far as I can tell shares some of the same territory as the federal ridings of Rivière-du-Nord, Montcalm, Joliette, and Repentigny. Those are ridings all held by the Bloc Quebecois, though it would be too much to consider this election as a test or an indicator of Bloc support.

The race is between the PQ's Nicolas Marceau and the Liberal Michel Fafard. As the PQ got 57% of the vote in 2008 to the Liberals' 22%, a PQ victory is expected. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see whether the Liberals improve their total and how the ADQ does. Also worth watching is Guy Rainville, the leader of the Parti Vert.

23:21 UPDATE - The PQ held on to the seat, maintaining their support level. The PLQ picked up eight points while the ADQ lost 12, to end up at a dismal 4%. Quebec Solidaire and the PVQ both improved a tiny bit, but nothing significant.