Thursday, June 9, 2011

Harper, Quebec, and Jean Charest

Jean Charest: the next thorn in Harper’s side?

Beginning today, the Conservatives will toast their election victory at their national convention, held a stone’s throw from Parliament Hill. 

But amid the celebration, storm clouds could be gathering on the opposite bank of the Ottawa River.

Despite having handily won his majority government without Quebec, Stephen Harper’s first mandate may be a turbulent one thanks to la belle province and its beleaguered Liberal premier.

A wily politician who rarely fails to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, Jean Charest is in an ideal position to rebuild his battered image at the expense of the Prime Minister.

You can read the rest of the article on The Huffington Post Canada website, here. 

I will post about yesterday's CROP poll here on the blog later today. 


  1. AverageCanuck09 June, 2011 12:01

    A thorn ? Smaller still, how about a mosquito ?

    From a legal/constitutional angle Charest is wrong. From a real politik angle Charest is far, far weaker than Harper and has zero leverage.

    Ottawa once tried to fix an election in Charest's favour by giving him a bucketload of cash to balance his budget (he blew it on tax cuts but that's another matter.)

    Might Harper withhold that 2.2 billion ?

    Or maybe he'll throw everything he has left at supporting the ADQ rump while throwing all kinds of roadblocks in Charest's way.

  2. Goaltender Interference09 June, 2011 12:53

    You heard it here first: ADQ and Quebec Solidaire could very easily replace the Liberals and PQ as the two largest parties in the next election.

    Quebecers are equally tired of Charest and Marois. Both the Liberals and PQ are in the mid 20s in opinion polls (down from 45% each in the 1990s). All that voters need is a little confidence that the alternatives aren't scary and the bottom could fall out just as it did for the Bloc and federal Liberals.

    The ADQ and QS leaders need to show real leadership now. They have been relatively untested and sometimes have had the tendency to do things appealing to the party base rather than the general public. But the premier's and opposition leader's chairs are not unrealistic goals for them.

    Even the Greens could do really well (for them), if they could bother to run a full slate of candidates or tell anyone that they had a new leader.

  3. Didn't Harper just demonstrate that he can completely ignore Quebec and still win a majority? Won't the new seats (which are being added in accordance with a formul that pre-dates Harper's government) make that even easier?

    The only danger to Harper is if Charest's antics make Ontarians think that Harper is behaving in an un-Canadian way. Ontario really seems to value Canadian-ness, and that seems to include being nice to Quebec out of some sense of guilt or something. I've never really understood it.

    Annoying Quebec will win Harper support on the prairies, not that he particularly needs more support there now.

  4. Ira,

    I do not mean that Charest can be a problem for Harper's re-election chances, but that he can be a strong voice of opposition and actually throw up some road blocks with his powers as premier.

  5. Eric I agree re Charest as opposition. Now if the NDP did the Provincial thing this could really be bad for Harper.

    Meanwhile Marois and the arena deal with Quebcor is handing the province back to Charest and splitting her own party at the same time. Well done !!

  6. The only areas in which Charest can actually accomplish anything in opposition to Harper is where Harper oversteps his authority as PM (like Senate reform).

    Quebec has already agreed to the HST, they can't do anything if Harper decides to deregulate the dairy industry (which he is almost certainly going to do to get his EU Free Trade deal). Charest is free to govern as he sees fit, and he's not really being asked to negotiate on anything aside from the Senate.

  7. AverageCanuck10 June, 2011 00:11

    Ira, Harper promised to protect supply management during the election.

    The most he could get away with is maybe slashing the 300% import duties in half and similiar tenative steps towards opening up the market.

    Hold up on senate reform, why do you think Harper is over stepping his bounds ?

    Ottawa brought in the 75 retirement without the provinces.

    Ottawa is allowed to change HOC and Senate is many ways under the consitution without needing provincial consent.

    Term limits will be held up by the courts. (Hopefully they get rid of the retirement age while they're at it. It will be redundant.)

    And the elections are non-binding.
    Alberta already elected senators without a problem. Nobody challenged that.

    Sorry but none of these bills are over stepping authority.


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