Friday, July 23, 2010

One of us - Quebecers voting for Quebecers

Quebec has a great sense of its own identity. While people from Ontario might consider Stephen Harper a Westerner and people from the West might consider Michael Ignatieff an Ontarian, there is less of an "us vs. them" mentality. They're all Canadians.

But for Quebecers, both Harper and Ignatieff are outsiders. It's a much bigger distinction and Quebecers see these two leaders differently than they do someone like Gilles Duceppe or Stéphane Dion. If Harper or Ignatieff show a good understanding of Quebecers and their values, that will be respected. If they speak the French language well enough that will be appreciated. But for a leader like Duceppe or past party leaders who hailed from from Quebec, it is an entirely different kettle of fish.

But does this perception change how Quebecers vote for one party or another? That is what I've decided to look at today.

The following chart shows the popular vote that each of the two main national parties have received in Quebec since the Quiet Revolution (generally considered to have started in 1960). I've chosen that date for two reasons: firstly, it is the moment when Quebecers started to impose themselves more forcefully on the federal level and became more aware of their own identity. Secondly, the Progressive Conservatives under Diefenbaker worked with Maurice Duplessis's Union nationale prior to this date, which skews the numbers. Voters prior to 1962 might have been voting PC because Duplessis supported that party. It had nothing to do with the Conservative leader himself.

The pale red sections of the chart below show the periods when the Liberal Party leader was from Quebec. The first band, running from the 1968 election to the 1980 election, represents Pierre Trudeau's time as leader. The second band, running from the 1993 election to the 2000 election, represents Jean Chrétien's time as leader. The final band represents Stéphane Dion's brief tenure as leader.

You might be asking why I didn't include Paul Martin as a Quebecer. After all, his LaSalle-Émard riding is in Montreal. The reason is that Martin was born in Windsor and was raised in Ontario. His background is more Franco-Ontarian than Quebecer, and his command of the French language was not exactly perfect. I don't believe he was seen as a Quebecer in the same way that Chretien or Duceppe were seen as Quebecers.

The pale blue section of the chart represents the period when Brian Mulroney (who was born and raised in Baie-Comeau) was leader of the Progressive Conservatives. The purple band represents the time when Jean Charest led the Progressive Conservatives (and when Jean Chrétien was Liberal leader). For the elections running from 1993 to 2000, I've combined the total support level of the Reform, PC, and Canadian Alliance parties. I think this chart is a very solid argument in favour of having leaders from Quebec.

Looking at the Liberal Party, it is easier to see how Trudeau brought the party to its dizzying heights, earning as much as 68.2% support in 1980. The Progressive Conservatives under Stanfield and Clark could do nothing, and their party dropped to 12% support in 1980. But the Liberals' fortunes fell after Trudeau left and John Turner became leader. This coincided with Mulroney's arrival as head of the Progressive Conservatives. Under him, the PC earned 50.2% and 52.7% in the 1984 and 1988 elections, respectively, while Liberal support dipped to 35.4% and 30.3%. When Kim Campbell took over and Jean Chrétien became leader of the Liberals, the parties switched positions and the Liberals saw another peak.

Interestingly, the PCs also had a peak in the 1997 election when Jean Charest became leader. This dampened Liberal fortunes - fortunes that raised again when Clark led the PCs and his party's support dropped to 11.8% in the province. With Martin at the helm, the Liberals again fell, dropping from 44.2% support in 2000 under Chrétien to 33.9% support in 2004 under Martin, and then 20.7% support in 2006.

The Conservatives did not have a Quebecer as head of their party, and suffered because of it in 2004. But with Martin heading the Liberals, and Harper finding the key to Quebec support in his famous December 2005 "Quebec speech", he regained the support of Quebecers when Martin couldn't earn it.

Dion, a Quebecer, shifted the dynamic again, increasing his party's support to 23.7% while Harper fell to 21.7%.

So what does this tell us for the next election? It is likely that Gilles Duceppe will be the only party leader from Quebec, not counting Layton who was born in Quebec but has spent most of his life in Ontario.

As Harper has lost favour in the province and is having more trouble being seen as "getting" the Quebec mentality, there is an opportunity for Ignatieff. Michael Ignatieff's mission in Quebec is to find the key message that will resonate with Quebecers despite his "outsider" status. The party's support in the province is lower than it has ever been, so there's only one direction to go from here.


  1. I wonder what Quebec would make of a franco-acadian leader from New Brunswick, like, say, Dominic Leblanc. I'm looking way into the future here, but I think it is possible that one day it could happen. Would seeing a strong fluent French speaker from outside their province make Quebec feel more tied to the rest of Canada? Anyone from la belle province want to weigh in?

  2. I think someone like Leblanc or Godin or (for Franco-Ontarians) Mauril Belanger would have a better chance of being liked in Quebec, but I think he would still be seen as a bit of an outsider. I don't think it would make Quebecers feel closer to Canada.

    An Acadian or Franco-Ontarian has a very different perspective than a Quebecer. Plus, the accent is different, which I think is one of the things that hurt Martin in Quebec.

  3. This analysis obscures the main post-1980 trend, which is the total demise of the Liberal party in Quebec outside of a few ridings in the Montreal region. The fact is that both Chrétien and Dion gave only modest bumps to the Liberal brand in Quebec in comparison to what it used to be. This is not the party of Laurier anymore and nowadays very mild signs Quebec nationalism (I'm not talking about separatism) are frowned upon in Liberal ranks, including Quebec where the party base is made of die-hard federalists. There is therefore absolutely no willingness to repair the underlying cause of their Quebec problem, the constitutional question: their fingerprints are all over the crime scene.

    Two French articles to read:

  4. Very good points. We remember how Ignatieff said he was in favour of recognizing the nation of Quebec and the uproar that followed within Liberal ranks.

    Jack Layton and the NDP has recently been taking over the "Quebec nationalist-federalist" spot leftover by the Liberals and Conservatives. They've been supporting things that the Bloc has been putting forward and have put forward their own motions in favour of the French language.

  5. Very interesting analysis, Eric.

    It's fairly obvious that Quebecers are more inclined to support "one of us" - though to point out, Pearson had a pretty good run of it before Trudeau, though that could be because of the Dief fallout.

    I think it goes even deeper, though, because clearly at some of Quebec's most nationalist-driven times, like 1976 when Levesque won provincially, support for federal Quebecers, sovereigntists or note, rose exponentially. Or when in 1999, Bouchard won provincially, and in 2000, both the Liberals and the Bloc rose.

    Does Quebec nationalist trends also determine how much support federal Quebecers get?

  6. Eric it would be interesting to see what effect having a Quebec leader has on party support in the three western provinces.

    One wonders, does support drop ?

    Also this chart should probably be adjusted again changes in national support.

    If a leader raises party support across the board then a rising tide lifts all ships, including Quebec.

    Its a confounding factor that could be obscuring the effect you're looking at.

  7. Your next leader of the Conservative Party, Maxime Bernier!

    I'm an Albertan, so naturally distrustful of anyone from east of Saskatchewan (Harper is from Ontario), but I would happily vote for Maxime Bernier. He's terrific.

  8. There is a clear post/pre-Bloc structural break. Pre-Bloc it is not clear that leaders from Quebec do better. Yes, Trudeau and Mulroney were popular, but so was Pearson (and King and Diefenbaker in 1958 who you excluded).

    So lets focus on 1993- the present. For the Liberals it is not at all clear that having a French leader helped. Yeah, Chretien did well, but he did well everywhere in the country. Moreover, in his best result he only won 36 seats. About half of those seats were in areas with a fairly large population of anglophones, allophones or hardline federalists who are unlikely to be give much extra weight to a leader from Quebec.

    Also if you look at polls, as opposed to election results, you can see that the mere fact of a leader from outside Quebec was not as damaging as you imply. Martin's support in Quebec did not dip as soon as he became leader, it fell later on as a result of Adscam.

    Moreover, while neither Harper nor Ignatieff exactly electrified Quebec, both had points when they were polling very well there. It didn't last, but it shows that at least for some period of time voters were considering giving an anglophone the keys to the castle. This is a phenomena Stephane Dion never experienced.

    Having a leader from Quebec is not as advantageous as you suggest. It is even less advantageous in the presence of a Bloc Quebecois that is likely to win the lion's share of seats in Quebec for many years to come. 37 seats (Chretien's high water mark plus Bachand) divided between three federalist parties is a pretty lousy prize.

  9. "While people from Ontario might consider Stephen Harper a Westerner and people from the West might consider Michael Ignatieff an Ontarian, there is less of an "us vs. them" mentality. They're all Canadians."

    I think you might be surprised by how quickly the accuracy of this statement wears down.

  10. Shadow,

    I know for a fact that Trudeau won heavily during his first couple of elections in the West, getting higher than 30% in Alberta in 1968 - much better results than what Pearson managed. So I'm not so sure the trend exists out West. The same goes for Joe Clark in 2000 - Charest the Quebecer got more support in the West in 1997 than Clark the Westerner did.

  11. Volkov its a fair bit more complicated than that.

    I'm pretty sure Clark actually did about the same out west, he also won a seat which Charest never did.

    Charest for BC/AB/SK was 6.2/14.4/7.8 where as Clark was 7.3/13.5/4.8. With BC's larger population that probably works out to be about the same.

    Meanwhile the PC's dropped about 6% over all. And the Alliance was surging by 6%.

    If you adjust for Clark's drop everywhere else it actually supports the hypothesis that a Quebec leader loses Western support.

    Trudeau did increase western support in his first election but if you adjust for the national swings seems to have done about the same as Pearson in elections after that

    Brian Mulroney doesn't seem to have hurt the PC's compared to Clark though.

    Neither did Jean Chretien, who would have been heavily identified as French.

    The evidence seems to be mixed at best. It certainly doesn't help a leader but i'm not sure it hurts them all that much either.

    Its possible Eric's "one of us" theory any my "not one of us" theory are not the relevent factors.

    Perhaps voters just go for a leader who's platform appeals to their interests. More often than not a Quebec leader would appeal to Quebec's interest. But they could also appeal to Western interests too, depending on the platform.

  12. Yes, there are ridings in Alberta that voted Liberal in 1968 and haven't since. Trudeau-mania was a natiowide phenomenon.

    Ralph Klein once told me that he voted for Trudeau, based solely on his "the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation" position.

  13. Ira,

    "Your next leader of the Conservative Party, Maxime Bernier!"

    Poor Max. He still has so much work to simple example: he is big on the phrase "mon gouvernement". Someone might want to enlighten him that that phrase is reserved either for the sovereign, or her representative, in Canada. (Speaks volumes, doesn't it...)

    Everyone else in the CPC uses "NOTRE gouvernement."

    I rest my case other than to say --
    Your next leader of the Conservative Party, Monte Solberg!

  14. There will be party leaders from Quebec but never again a PM.

    The population and power has shifted away from Quebec.

    The benevolence toward Quebec and Quebec leaders that Ontario as the prime beneficiary of confederation and economic engine of Canada has been forever lost. Ontario became a have-not province and the manufacturing base is rusted and not is not likely to rebound to its previous level ever.

    The shift from Ontario looking after Canada to looking after Ontario was made clear when absolutely no leader, including Duceppe, made any comment on the largest federal bail out in history of GM and the auto sector. Any negative comments on this would have wiped out the Liberals or NDP in Ontario for generations as has happened with the Liberals and NEP in Alberta.

    Duceppe realized that if he opposed the auto bail there would be equalization cuts and economic sanctions aimed at Quebec.

    Ontario can no longer be sure that the Quebec PMs will not do Ontario significant damage while pandering to Quebec.

  15. BC Voice of Reason,

    I find your statement to be a little too categorical. None of us can predict the future. To suggest that the economic demographic shift (which I applaud) automatically translates into a veto on a Quebec-based prime minister, is with respect, fanciful. Westerners are more broad minded than that. They will judge each party leader on his or her merits (or lack thereof) not automatically default to he or she is from Quebec and therefore is equivalent to a "big-zero".

  16. Solberg's too folksy. He won't sell in Ontario.

  17. Westerners have not voted for a Quebec PM since Mulroney in 1988.
    That's 22 years ... you might see a trend. But not as severe as Quebec - Quebec has not voted for a non-Quebec PM since Pearson in 1965

    I am suggesting that Ontario will not vote for a leader from Quebec in sufficient numbers to get him elected.

    A political party will have to consider that when choosing a Leader.

    After all the leaders from Quebec Ontario is due for a couple of generations of Ontario based leaders.

    I think the next CPC leader will be from Ontario. Christopher Alexander should be ready in 6-8 years when Harper is done.

  18. Ronald O'Dowd i'd have to agree with BCVOR for the short term at least. Who knows after that?

    The CPC will not elect a Jean Charest or Lawrence Cannon type.

    They probably would consider someone like Bernier but his english needs work, he's had personal issues in the past, and as an idealogue he'd have limited appeal outside the party.

    Someone like Jason Kenney would be far more preferable.

    As for the Liberals doesn't tradition dictate that the leader alternate between Quebec/Non-Quebec ?

    I can't think of a single person from the Quebec liberal team who would be able to win a government short of an NDP-Liberal + BQ support coalition.

    And BQ support seems far less likely when the Quebec Liberal leader is from Quebec.

    We could be in for a very long stretch with a Quebec PM.

  19. Ira,

    "Solberg's too folksy. He won't sell in Ontario."

    Perhaps. But do you agree with me that when it comes to the Reform-Alliance base, that if he goes for it, he's a leading contender with the membership?

  20. BC Voice of Reason,

    "I am suggesting that Ontario will not vote for a leader from Quebec in sufficient numbers to get him elected."

    If there's one thing that unites a party it's when the perception finally takes off (or sinks in) that "This Guy" or "This Gal" is going to be a barn burner. Mulroney is your typical example -- just contrast the reception he received during his two leadership runs.

    I would put it to you that in Conservatives circles, you could end up with the worst of both worlds in a general election if the next leader hails from Ontario: namely, tepid and pro-forma support in the West with reduced voter participation while support in Quebec flat lines. In other words, the road to a majority does not pass by way of an Ontario CPC leader.

  21. Shadow,

    "The CPC will not elect a Jean Charest or Lawrence Cannon type.

    They probably would consider someone like Bernier but his english needs work, he's had personal issues in the past, and as an idealogue he'd have limited appeal outside the party.

    Someone like Jason Kenney would be far more preferable.

    As for the Liberals doesn't tradition dictate that the leader alternate between Quebec/Non-Quebec ?

    I can't think of a single person from the Quebec liberal team who would be able to win a government short of an NDP-Liberal + BQ support coalition."

    Point One: Agreed based on the membership composition of the party. Moderates and so-called progressive candidates might as well arrange a trip to Disneyland instead. Charest is a disaster in the making in Quebec City while Cannon is not seen as a future party leader. (Lord is becoming less relevant with each passing day so why would he even bother to get in.)

    Point Two: Bingo. Max is far too right-wing for Central Canada. He may be able to carry the Beauce but he'll never carry the rest of the province. Jason Kenney is solid but a leadership bid might have its challenges.

    Point Three: Mais oui - there is a lot of resistance to monkey with this formula but it's not an absolute. Again, the prime consideration becomes, is this person a real winner? Has he or she got what it takes to win big?

    Point Four: Marc Garneau has serious potential. In French, we call it a "feuille de route". Ditto for Dominic Leblanc (as a non-Quebecer) -- and further down the road, Justin could win government.

  22. Hey Ron why Solberg ?

    I mean he's well liked. He and Bernier are the only two contenders who blog. And in this age a digital presense is a big plus. (Clement and Moore's twittering, on the other hand, hasn't been as well recieved.)

    But he's just so bland. Countless other contenders with more star power would easily take all his oxygen. And being a good guy isn't enough for the job.

    Does anyone want a somewhat smarter version of Ed Stelmach as their leader ?

    Peter Kent or Christopher Alexander would both be solid Ontario leadership contenders.

    I don't see why they'd have "tepid" support out West. So long as they visited often and talked to people it would be fine.

  23. Shadow,

    I warn you in advance that I could be full of shit...but here it goes: as a former Conservative, I would argue that the party's strongest point of pride is known as western accomplishment -- that is, as this Prime Minister said on election night, "The West Is In". IMHO, true believers (and I do not mean that in a pejorative sense) want to keep western power in Ottawa afloat.

    For all practical purposes, that means lining up behind a solid westerner. If Stock had no track record, that would mean him. But given past circumstances and the consistent desire for generational change, he like Rae on the other side will find most of the climbing up hill.

    Bland? And this PM has all the pissaz of the bubbles in the champagne bottle???

    Kent is an interesting choice. But is he a real political animal who will do whatever it takes to win? Harper has that quality in spades.

    Alexander, no question will be a rising star if he wins. No wonder both major parties tried to nab him. But few diplomats catch fire. Just go back to Pearson -- one hell of a nice guy and highly accomplished but no Diefenbaker (who of course was better at undoing himself than the opposition was...)

    What recent PM reminds us of Dief, in more ways than one?!

  24. Under the new distribution the West
    (Manitoba west) gets 105 seats

    Ontario gets 124

    Quebec gets 75 (40 possible non-bloc seats)

    the 308 becomes 338 - a majority becomes 169.

    A Quebec Leader (Garneau/Trudeau and even Chretien) is looking at a max of 10 western seats and 40 in Quebec-- If they wipe out the CPC and NDP.

    This means they have to pick up 119 seats out of the 159 seats of Ontario the Maritimes and the north. 75% --- good luck that.

    A provincial max of 40 seats will hurt any Quebec leader.

    Someone like Bernier is attractive to get the extra 10-20 Quebec seats but out west we would end up voting Reform or Wild Rose

  25. With Quebec only having 30-40 seats it is becoming a possibility that someone that could deliver Ontario would not have to be a functional French speaker and be PM.

  26. BC Voice of Reason,

    "With Quebec only having 30-40 seats it is becoming a possibility that someone that could deliver Ontario would not have to be a functional French speaker and be PM."

    Possible yes, but highly unlikely. As long as duality exists in this country, the prime minister will either be: a) functionally bilingual or b) like this Prime Minister, pledged to becoming so as quickly as possible.

    I admire Harper for his personal commitment to the duality that is so fundamental to the survival of this precious nation of ours.

  27. BCVOR the Tories need about 10 Quebec seats for a majority.

    With the added western seats and the current configuration Harper gets a slim majority provided he keeps the Quebec seats.

    Having a non-french speaking PM/Leader would likely be a bridge too far and would put those seats at risk.

    The only other option would be a major Atlantic breakthrough, four seats in Newfoundland, two in PEI, big sweeps in NS/NB, plus even more Ontario seats. Pretty tough stuff.

    Electing a non-french speaking PM/Leader would NOT be a very good idea from a strategic perspective.

  28. Eric, since I'm on the west coast, a proverbial "million miles away" from the east, I would like your take on the following matter in terms of a better understanding.

    I have always viewed the Acadians in NB to be akin to the Quebecois in Quebec. IOW, they are brothers/sisters, so to speak. The only difference is that they are separated by a "man-made" political boundary - ie. that between Quebec and NB.

    Ergo, how are the Acadians any different from the Quebecios other than that they are separated by a man-made political boundary?!

    Frankly, I am a bit stupefied as they share the same linguistic and historical background. I have always wondered about this distinction.

    What are your thoughts?

  29. Quebecers and Acadians have a lot in common, sure, but no, they aren't separated by just a border.

    The language, for one, can be very different. Depending on the region of New Brunswick the person is from, a Quebecer might have an easier time understanding a Frenchman than an Acadian.

    Quebecers and Acadians have been in their own jurisdictions since the Conquest, so they have developed rather independently.

    Acadians have the Deportation as their major historical event, Quebecers have the Conquest.

    Acadians developed as a minority, Quebecers as a majority.

    Because of their distinct histories, Acadians have gotten the mentality of protecting their language and religion, but still co-operating with the anglophones in the province. Quebecers have a different sense of themselves, the difference between nationhood and nationality.

    Consider that Acadians have no concept of separation - as a culture they are "federalists".

    Geography has played a big role, Acadians being maritime and agricultural, not having a major metropolis (like Montreal or even Quebec). Quebecers are more urbanized.

    Quebecers also tend to look at francophones outside of Quebec differently. To many, Acadians and Franco-Ontarians have voluntarily allowed themselves to be assimilated.

    But there's also the intangible differences.

  30. Eric what about Québec maritime?

    In the small towns and fishing villages are they more like Acadians ? Is their accent distinct from people in Montreal or does everyone in Quebec sound the same ?

  31. --- Eric what about Québec maritime?

    The Gaspé, where I am from, has a different accent, somewhat similar to the Acadian one, especially along the Baie des Chaleurs. But it is, nevertheless, a very different accent than the one in the Caraquet peninsula or down near Moncton.

    --- Is their accent distinct from people in Montreal or does everyone in Quebec sound the same ?

    No, everyone does not sound the same. The Saguenay region has a distinct accent, while there is also a bit of a rural/urban divide.

    Quebec's accents seem to have a similar make-up to the accents of the USA. Plainly different but mutually intelligible, without problem. The differences are not as great, though.

  32. Éric,

    Yours truly used to work at CKNB Radio in Campbellton, New Brunswick decades ago. Was amazed to find so many Irish Quebecers on the opposite side. (Who knew to check with Lévesque.)

    But back on topic: Shadow, the most funny accent, or should I call it a distinctive pattern is the way they ROLLLLLLL their RRRRRRs when speaking French dans la metropole. (Montreal). Here, at the latent court of French kings, WE certainly don't do that. Oops!

  33. I would argue that Eric's focus on the "one of us" phenomenon in Quebec is too limited. This is not a post-Quiet-Revolution tendency.

    In EVERY election since Confederation, when they've had the option of voting for a major party led by someone from the province, Quebeckers have ALWAYS done so.

    Even the Diefenbaker years illustrate this trend. In 1957, when St. Laurent was Liberal leader, Diefenbaker won a minority government but only a handful of seats in Quebec. It wasn't until 1958, when he could campaign against a non-Quebecker (Pearson), that Dief's Tories won a majority of Quebec seats.

  34. Further to my previous post ...

    Federal general elections with at least one major party leader from Quebec (with the party leader winning the most seats in that province):

    1896 - Laurier
    1900 - Laurier
    1904 - Laurier
    1908 - Laurier
    1911 - Laurier
    1917 - Laurier
    1949 - St. Laurent
    1953 - St. Laurent
    1957 - St. Laurent
    1968 - Trudeau
    1972 - Trudeau
    1974 - Trudeau
    1979 - Trudeau
    1980 - Trudeau
    1984 - Mulroney
    1988 - Mulroney
    1993 - Bouchard
    1997 - Duceppe
    2000 - Duceppe
    2004 - Duceppe
    2006 - Duceppe
    2008 - Duceppe

    That's 22 out of 22 times. Looks like a trend to me.

    Quebec voters only seem to support a party led by a non-Quebecker en masse if there are no Quebecker-led parties to choose from.

  35. Ronald O'Dowd - That's certainly possible. This is the same group of people who selected the grossly unelectable young-earth creationist Stockwell Day as their leader.

    But maybe they've learned their lesson. The Alberta portion of arguably the same group of people just selected a liberatarian atheist as a party leader (WRA), so I have hope for them.

  36. Henry,

    Excellent work. And thank you!

  37. Ira,

    I knew Danielle Smith was a libertarian but I had no idea that she is also an atheist.

    That should scramble a few eggs over on the far right!

  38. Quebec has a pretty good record of voting for locals, (I think the Creditistes were unopposed by Quebec party leaders though but never won a majority there) but so does Alberta, (Various Soccred/CPC/CCRAP/Ref/PC leaders) and a weaker case could be made for Saskatchewan (Dief, various CCF) and the Martimes. (Stanfield did pretty well there)

    I don't think it should be too much of a surprise. Few states are so bereft of regionalism that local leaders can't have big coattails.

  39. Danielle handles her religious positions very well by not talking about them. Canadian political history shows us very clearly that talking about religion makes you lose.

  40. kevinsutton wrote:

    "Few states are so bereft of regionalism that local leaders can't have big coattails."

    Certainly _some_ level of local favouritism is not unique to Quebec.

    But Quebec is hardly a typical case -- you simply cannot find another Canadian example where that favouritism was so uniform over such a large sample size (22 elections).

    And one could begin to enumerate where such local favouritism failed to manifest itself elsewhere. For example:
    - Ontarian Pearson's Liberals did not win a majority of Ontario seats in 1958
    - Ontarian King did not win a majority of Ontario seats in 1930
    - Nova Scotian Borden did not win ANY seats in N.S. in 1904

  41. Peter this story must be tough for you:

    In 1991 Harper wrote a very good (A possibly A+) masters thesis in economics.

    However, he used census data !

    Choose your own talking point:

    A) Do you continue bashing Harper as someone who isn't really an economist.

    B) Do you use Harper's own economics background against him, pointing out that he, as someone with a very good understanding of the field, used census data too.

    Anti-Harper folks have some tough choices to make today!

  42. "Federal general elections with at least one major party leader from Quebec (with the party leader winning the most seats in that province):"

    Yes, but we are talking about this in the context of what leader federalist parties should select. If the Bloc has a lock on the local vote, then there is little strategic advantage in selecting a French leader.

    As to leadership selection, some people are jumping the gun. Canadian leadership races are different from American primaries in that insiders play a much larger role. Our system produces compromise candidates or establishment figures over ideologues most of the time.

    Insiders may have ideological objectives, but they also care a great deal about winning. There may also be regional divides if a candidate has limited appeal in a given region.

    Moreover, most parties use a preferential ballot, which limits the utility of extremist candidates (though we are talking about extremists in the context of a political party).

    So the critical question is how the party will divide, and which candidate will be mutually acceptable to multiple groups. The Conservative party contains four sometimes overlapping groups: Reformers, Harrisites (ie. Blue Tories, many of whom voted Alliance, but not necessarily Reform), ADQistes and Old PC's (ie. Red Tories).

    I would estimate that the weighted party membership is about 40% Reformer, 25% Harrisite, 20% ADQ (because ridings get equal weights), and 15% old PC.

    The most likely winner will be somebody that can appeal to both Reformers and Harrisites, being the two most ideologically similar groups. In other words, a fiscal conservative, law and order type who is not too western or too evangelical.

  43. I would add that in three straight federal elections former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas got zero seats in Saskatchewan - 1962, 1963 and 1965.

  44. Through all of this dialogue most of you are missing the fact that MI can and will be the next PM. He's from Ontario and they are overdue to have PM representation. Forget the current noise we hear about him as its mostly shrill voices of unreason from the Tory war room. Granted he won't win Quebec but he will do better there. He is showing off young Trudeau on the bus tour with great results so far. If he uses him correctly, and not as the go to political guy in the province, he will help win seats just by his presence and smarts.

    The Bloc is tired and not renewing itself as Duceppe is now (in my opinion) just hanging around long enough to see if Marois self destructs. Charest is playing that game very nicely by allowing her some prime time before he destroys her in the next election and by then Duceppe will definitely retire.

  45. Terence,

    Strictly speaking, Ontario is currently represented in the PM's office, since Harper is an Etobicokian by birth and up-bringing.

    In any event, while Michael Ignatieff can be the next prime minister it's not at all obvious that he will.

  46. hosertohoosier wrote:

    "I would estimate that the weighted party membership is about ... "

    Your estimate methodology does not seem to be very rationally constructed.

    Your percentages add up to 100% and yet, for example, you group "Harrisite", "Reformer" and "old PC" as mutually exclusive. But voters who supported the Ontario PCs under Mike Harris would have mostly been supporters of one of Reform, Alliance or PC at the federal level.

    (In the 1993 and 1997 elections the federal PCs and Reform roughly evenly divided in Ontario popular vote, while in 2000, the Canadian Alliance had about a 3-to-2 advantage over the old federal PC party.)

    Similarly in Quebec, to call current CPC members "ADQists" is quite odd. First of all, given its lifespan and trajectory it is difficult to describe ADQ as the _identity_ of more than a very tiny portion of Quebec voters. Secondly, it also seems likely that many (most?) CPC members in Quebec were supporters of the "old PCs" under Mulroney. Jean-Pierre Blackburn would be an obvious example of this.

    This kind of mixing of federal and provincial affiliations confuses an exercise that is already fraught with problems such as:
    - baseline time selection
    - ignoring people previously unaffiliated or making more substantial changes (e.g. the CPC's Kitchener Centre MP is a former Liberal)
    - the fact that you're not using much more than simple guesswork over actual data.

  47. Henry,

    If you know of a good source of data on Conservative membership, please let me know. My numbers were a guess rooted loosely in the results of the 2004 Conservative leadership race.

    As to the four Conservative identities, the reason I identified those four is that they have distinct stances on a range of issues, though surely there are a number of voters on the margins. Secondly, these groups are the face of real grassroots muscle, much of which is at the provincial level.

    So yes, many ADQistes may have been former PC members. However the PC party of 1993 was itself a party with many wings (one of which was a Quebec wing that had distinct preferences from the rest of the party on a host of issues). The rump that remained in 2003 had only a limited presence in Quebec.

    Alternately a member could have been both a Reformer and a Harrisite. The real question though is whether Reform networks or Harrisite networks are more likely to get that member to vote. Relatedly, there is the question of which identity is stronger, and which entity the member is ideologically closer to.

    Reformers are more socially conservative and more anti-Ottawa than Harrisites, although both are quite fiscally conservative.

    It may be possible that I am treating the west as too much of a monolith. While there is a Reform grassroots network, there may be divisions at the provincial level. For instance, the Alberta PCs and Wildrose Party might mobilize behind different candidates. Likewise the BC Liberals do not overlap completely with Reformers.

    I simply suggest that races like this are unlikely to hinge on decisions made by individual members. Rather it will hinge on the actions of established political machines - some national and some provincial. To determine the winner it makes sense to think about how those organizations will line up.


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