Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Conservatives aim to replace NDP in Quebec

Quebec’s flirtation with the NDP will soon turn sour, leaving the Tories to fill the vacuum as the province’s federal party of choice.

So declared Conservative Leader Stephen Harper during a campaign-style speech in Calgary over the weekend.

“Quebec’s honeymoon with the NDP will pass,” the Prime Minister told party supporters. “As many provinces know well, no honeymoon passes as quickly and as completely as one with the NDP.”

Of course, Harper knows better than most the fickle nature of political love affairs in Quebec, where his party was reduced to five seats from 11 in the May 2 federal vote.

At only 16.5 per cent support, the Tories fell far behind the New Democrats and even the Bloc Québécois. Conservative MPs were pushed out of eastern Quebec, the Saguenay region, and Quebec City. Only a few MPs south of the provincial capital and one near Lac-St-Jean survived the pasting.

It was the second consecutive campaign in which the Tory vote fell in the province.

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

The updated projection model indicates how far the Conservatives need to go before they are a real factor in Quebec. With the June averages, the model updated with the 2011 election results projections 63 New Democratic MPs, seven Conservatives, four Liberals, and only one Bloc Québécois member.

What do the Conservatives manage to hold - and win?

Obviously, their strongholds south of Quebec City (Beauce, Lotbinière - Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, Mégantic - L'Érable, Lévis - Bellechasse) remain Tory, while Denis Lebel is re-elected in Roberval - Lac-Saint-Jean.

One of the gains is not surprising: Montmagny - L'Islet - Kamouraska - Rivière-du-Loup. It was an extremely close race on election night, and the June averages would overturn the result with the Conservatives at 40% in the riding and the NDP at 38%.

The other gain is surprising: Mount Royal, on the island of Montreal. This was an actually close race between the Tories and the Liberals, with the Liberals winning on May 2nd with 41% to the Tories' 36% of the vote in the riding. With 18%, the NDP was not a factor here. But with the Liberals tanking in Quebec, the Conservatives pull ahead in Mount Royal and win 40% to 36%. One part of the province in which the Conservatives might have the inside track on the NDP is in western Montreal, at least in a handful of ridings. There is far more long-term potential for the Conservatives in this region than there is for the NDP.

The Liberals hold on to Bourassa, Papineau, Saint-Laurent - Cartierville, and Saint-Léonard - Saint-Michel, all Montreal ridings. It means the survival of three of their most recognized faces: Denis Coderre, Justin Trudeau, and Stéphane Dion, but not that of Marc Garneau.

The Bloc Québécois holds on to Haute-Gaspésie - La Mitis - Matane - Matapédia, the only riding of the four they held on election night that was not won by the skin of their teeth.