Monday, July 18, 2011

The political honeymoon and the NDP in Quebec

To some a honeymoon means the excitement of something new and the knowledge a great and long-lasting relationship is just beginning. To the Prime Minister, it is something to be regretted and forgotten as soon as the formerly happy couple realizes what a horrible mistake they have made – at least when that honeymoon is with the NDP. 

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website here.

I read somewhere that the New Democrats should beware, as Quebecers have proven before how fickle they can be when it comes to federal politics. The Progressive Conservatives dominated the province in two elections before being reduced to virtually nothing, while the Bloc's experience in the province ended with an unmitigated disaster.

However, both of these scenarios should be just fine for the NDP. On the one hand, if Jack Layton's honeymoon with Quebec lasts as long as Brian Mulroney's, meaning the NDP will still win the majority of seats in the province in 2015 but could be turfed in 2019, that still gives the NDP one more election to form a government. If the New Democrats can retain 55+ seats in Quebec, the gains they need to make in the rest of the country become manageable. And once the NDP forms government, anything goes.

On the other hand, a "honeymoon" that lasts as long as it did with the Bloc would please any federal leader. Though it would end in catastrophe, the NDP would still be the master of the province for the better part of two decades, until about 2029. I'm pretty sure the NDP would gladly take such a "honeymoon".

On an unrelated note, the vote and seat projection model for Ontario is completed. I'll be updating the site with running projections of both the popular vote and the seats later this week.


  1. bruce van der lee18 July, 2011 09:42

    The social credit governerment in Alberta was in power from 1935 to 1971, not 1958 as reorted in your article. bruce van der lee Montreal, quebec

  2. You are referring to the provincial Social Credit, my article is making reference to the federal Social Credit.

  3. BC Voice of Reason18 July, 2011 10:04

    It is quite a leap to suggest that historital patterns... herd movements.... would indicate the future of the NDP in Quebec.

    What did the NDP run on in Quebec that makes it attractive and re-electable not just a passing honey moon?

    Was it the government interference into credit card interest rates?

    Was it raising corporate income taxes and chasing even more jobs out of Quebec?

    Are Quebeckers okay with paying more taxes for more government delivered services?

    Do the NDP represent the goals of Quebec?

    Who can figure out what Quebec actually wants to be? and if it is willing to take any steps to get there?

  4. --- "It is quite a leap to suggest that historital patterns... herd movements.... would indicate the future of the NDP in Quebec."

    Indeed, which is why I thought the Prime Minister's statement needed a little fact-checking.

  5. "What did the NDP run on in Quebec that makes it attractive and re-electable not just a passing honey moon?"

    ANSWER: Social democratic policies around preserving public health care and expanding pensions, commitment to doing something about greenhouse gas emissions, turning the page on the old sovereignist vs federalist arguments, as well as opposition to the war in Afghanistan and having a popular leader.

    Why does anyone vote the way they do anywhere? Quebecers voting NDP makes more sense than people poor rural ridings in English Canada voting Conservative. I can understand why a wealthy business tycoon would vote Tory - but why would any senior citizen vote Tory when the Tories are the party that represents cuts to health care and no action on pensions. If poor old ladies on fixed incomes can vote Tory - then don't go acting as if Quebec voting NDP is some great mystery.

  6. Conservatives had so much promise in Quebec after the formulating of the Open Federalism policy, even if it was hard to define what it meant sometimes, that it is a bit surprising they have fallen significantly from that into their tiny enclave in Beauce/Provincial ADQ.

    As for Quebecers voting NDP: About time!!!! With the marginalization of the Bloc and great weakness of the other federalist options in Quebec, makes perfect sense the NDP to be completely dominant. Quebec voters are more left-wing economically and socially(in some cases) than most of Canada and really are not that opinionated about independence (probably 25% at most are hardcore sovereigntists above anything else). I wouldnt be surprised if the NDP won more seats next time, specifically in Montreal. The NDP coalition of Soft Nationalists, center-left/leftist voters and federalists who see them as the best option to counter the Bloc should hold them through at least another election as it would be hard to see Harper being very popular there again and hard to see the Liberals doing much better. The major threat would be some resurgence of the National Question debate, in which case they would be worried about a Bloc recapturing of many ridings.

  7. I was expecting and hoping this to happen eventually, sometime, but was still surprised on May 2. If this is a major realignment, or the beginning of one, where does the Quebec Federation of Labour fit into this? And for that matter, do experienced Bloc apparatchiks jump on board the social democratic boat as well?

    South Parkdale Jack

  8. DL is trotting out the old "if only people voted their interests we'd have an [insert left wing party here] government".

    Well except for a few rich tycoons who'd be taxed at 100% to pay for everybody else. (Hint: soaking the rich is never enough, sooner or later the tax man comes for the middle class too).

    DL what you're failing to grasp, the reason why a poor old rich lady in rural Canada might vote Conservative is because she's thinking beyond her own narrow interests.

    Its not all me, me, me.

    Its about doing what's right for your country and society as a whole. And trying to make sure there are some jobs left out there for your grand kids!

    Quebec may surprise you in the future. Some people out there can thinkg beyond themselves. Just because the NDP is promising them things now doesn't mean they will vote for them later.

  9. It angers me, and will anger Quebecers that Harper thinks he knows how they will vote. Such arrogance is what hurt the Liberal Party. That's an excellent strategy to follow. I see no reason for Quebec to stop voting NDP. Quebecers hate Harper, hate the Liberal Party and are tired of separatism. Until those factors change, Quebec will vote NDP.

  10. "DL what you're failing to grasp, the reason why a poor old rich lady in rural Canada might vote Conservative is because she's thinking beyond her own narrow interests.

    Its not all me, me, me."

    Has it ever occurred to you that many people vote NDP not because it would benefit them personally, but because they think its better for Canada? I know a lot of people (including both of my parents) who have six digit incomes who would be personally better off with a rightwing government that wants to make the rich richer and the poor poorer - but they vote NDP because they want to live in a fairer and more equitable society.

  11. Anonymous @ 15:43
    "the reason why a poor old rich lady in rural Canada might vote Conservative is because she's thinking beyond her own narrow interests.

    Its not all me, me, me. "

    Give me a break. All conservatives care about are their own narrow interests! Keeping all their money to themselves, never helping anyone unless they can get some sort of reward back etc. (and not doing anything for anybody out of kindness, but, what is in it for them). So don't give me that nonsense about the left-wing just caring for themselves and right-wingers knowing what is best for everyone.

    By the way, what jobs are going to be left out there exactly? The only jobs our grand kids will find in 20 years time (if they are lucky) will be McD's and other low-income jobs with absolutely no benefits. Who can survive on (in some cases) $10/hr for 40 hr/week!

    We need more small businesses to bring in money for the local economy. Where do you think the money made in fast food joints and Walmart goes? With the money made from small businesses, the town/city can create more jobs. Actual jobs too! With good pensions, employee benefits, sick leaves without worrying about losing money, etc.

    But of course to you conservatives, that is socialism and is evil evil evil!

  12. Angry Canuck go out to Alberta.

    THOSE are good, high paying jobs. And all I hear from the NDP is talk about shutting down the oil sands.

    Lots of poor people vote CPC because they know if they work hard a good economy might one day pay off for them too. And a strong economy means a strong country.

    Its good for everyone. Its about the broader good, not narrow interests about getting a government pay cheque !

    Lots of french speakers on the job.

    Quebec might surprise you. Don't be arrogant NDP. That's how the BQ lost, thinking they OWNED the votes of Quebec.

  13. I realize that everyone believes the supporters of THEIR party is the salt of the earth, but let's tone it down. Everyone votes for different reasons, there is no homogeneity within the voting blocks of each party.

  14. This idea that Quebecers are "fickle" when it comes to federal parties is, I would say, due to laziness of some columnists and editorialists. Quebec sent a majority of Liberals to Ottawa for seven straight elections, then Tories for two, then Bloc for six. The only reason anyone would call Quebecers "fickle" is because they don't know why Quebecers vote the way they do, and therefore write off their behaviour as something negative. Here are a few thoughts that might help some people understand:

    (1) people can be in favour of Quebec independence without always voting for a separatist party, and vice versa. Just like many people feel about, say, Senate reform or abolishing the monarchy, one can be in favour of something in theory without wanting their politicians to devote all of their time and energy to accomplishing it, if other things are more important.

    (2) Other than the question of independence, the Bloc and NDP's policies are quite similar. So it's not surprising that voters were comfortable switching from one party to the other.

    (3) If the Bloc dies because it can't raise money, can't find an interesting leader or the PQ decides that having a federal wing is just a distraction, and if the Liberals continue to remain the party the blue-haired crowd
    in Quebec, then NDP supporters are likely to stay where they are in the next election, rather than the Conservatives who have very different policies.

  15. I actually don't think Quebecers are any more "fickle" or "tribal" (take your pick of condescending terms used to describe Quebecers by Anglo-canadian pundits who know nothing about Quebec) in their voting behaviour than people in other provinces. If you want to talk tribal - what do you call Alberta voting monolithically Tory/Reform for over 50 straight years? Was Ontario being "tribal" when it elected almost nothing but Liberals in 1993, 1997 and 2000? Did Ontario then become "fickle" when it reduced to the liberals to just 11 seats? What about Nova Scotia? It gave all 11 of its seats to the Liberals in 1993 and then shut them out four years later in 1997! Boy those Nova Scotians sure are FICKLE!

  16. It seems to me that it is too soon to tell the rise of the NDP in Quebec will sustain itself beyond the next election. Keep in mind, the federal Liberal were serious contender in the province from 1896 to 2004 (with brief interruptions with Diefenbaker and Mulroney and the Bloc, although the Liberals did well in the province in 2000 and were polling high before the sponsorship scandal).

    I'm uncertain if the NDP can sustain themselves beyond Jack Layton in the province. If they can, it's a major shift in Canadian politics.

    A question I'm interested in is whether the Tories have created a governing alliance with the West and Ontario. This seems to be built on more solid ground than the Mulroney coalition.

  17. If the NDP play their cards right, they will dominate Quebec for decades. Quebec will be the backbone of a future NDP-led government.

    Hopefully, the NDP doesn't become too Quebec-centric either. The NDP would need to increase its presence in the rest of the country, if it wants to be considered a viable contendor for government. The NDP has potential to make inroads in all regions of Canada, and it will be interesting to see what they will do in the next few years.

    - Maple


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