Friday, August 26, 2011

Replacing Gilles Duceppe

Stripped of its status as an official party in the House of Commons, the Bloc Québécois is still smarting from the electoral pasting it received on May 2 that has left the sovereigntist party leaderless and its future in limbo.

Still, the Bloc will be the first of the three opposition parties to hold a leadership convention. Unless the date is put off — and some influential figures in the Bloc Québécois argue it should be — the Bloc will name its next leader in December.

There may not be many candidates.

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

The future of the Bloc Québécois is interesting. Four years is a long time. On the one hand, it is a very long time for the Bloc to keep itself in the public eye, and between now and the next election the Parti Québécois could be handed a catastrophic defeat at the provincial level. On the other hand, it gives the Bloc a lot of time to prepare for 2015, work out a new angle, and hope for something to happen either within the NDP Quebec caucus or at the provincial level.

The Bloc still has a niche. Though it has been robbed of its role as a voice for social democracy in Quebec, it is still the only party that can speak for Quebec's interests and Quebec's interests only. It is also the only federal vehicle for sovereigntists in the province. At worst, they are still likely to garner 15% of the vote or so, at best they can still push 30% if the New Democrats remain a force in the province.

And something like that amount of support in Quebec might be enough to get them back into official party status. The New Democrats beat the Bloc by margins of ten points or less in six ridings (actually, it is astounding that it is only six ridings). Undoubtedly, constituents in many parts of Quebec will be very happy with their new, rookie NDP MPs and they will have a very good chance of being re-elected if things don't turn badly for the party. But in other ridings, these rookie NDP MPs might not live up to expectations and if the Bloc manages to keep itself at 1 in 4 support or so, they would have a good chance of winning at least 12 seats in the province.

That is, if they are still a factor. The next four years will be determinant for the Bloc, and the leader they choose will play a huge role in deciding whether the Bloc is swept from the province for good in 2015 or if it returns to the House of Commons with some influence. It is perhaps understandable that few high profile candidates are stepping forward to take on such a difficult, and potentially career-ending job.


  1. It is an interesting conundrum ?

    Should give the political junkies loads of things to watch ??

  2. I don't understand the dynamics of leadership contests at all. Everyone wants to be leader at the top of the party's success, no one wants to be leader when the party is at the bottom. Generally a person doesn't reach the apex of their career winning a big majority government and says, "Please, I'm not interested in this, someone else take over."

    Parties are like stocks, you buy low. If I were a Bloc member in Quebec this is when I'd start getting active. I doubt strongly that the Bloc is dead and therefore they will grow in the next election.

    Leaders build parties, people who inherit them tend to watch them slip like sand through their fingers - Campbell, Martin, Brown (UK). It's backwards thinking not to want to lead now.

  3. Oh great !

    Now the BQ are making a comeback and stealing NDP votes.

    Say hello to 10 CPC caucus members from Quebec due to vote splits.

    Jack gave us a shot of taking down Harper.

    He destroyed the Liberals and the Bloc and consolidated the left behind him. With him gone we're back at square 1.

    3 parties splitting vs 1 party united.

    Until we merge or talk coalitions then we're not going to get anywhere !

    Say hello to 15 more years of PM Harper.

  4. Jack is alive in spirit and legacy. Do not underestimate the resolve of the NDP, it's members and supporters, especially it's MPs and MLA's. And do not underestimate the resolve of the thousands and thousands of new supporters, especially the young, who are now drawn in because of his death, to help carry the torch. He has made politics a more honourable profession, hopefully opening the door to even more new talented people for all parties. Many Canadians everywhere want to move forward.

    South Parkdale Jack

  5. @ Anonymous 12:53,

    The BQ are likely not to be making a comeback. Reasons include weak leadership candidates and no source of party income. With the $2 per vote subsidies gone, the BQ doesn't really have any source of getting money. With the way Quebec politics is going, I won't be surprised if there was a second federal level separatist party established before the next election.

    I'm hearing many people stating that the Stephen Harper will probably be PM for a very long time. I don't think this will be the case. Harper won a majority, because his party was considered a safe option during an unnecessary election. The Tories went from 37.6% in 2008 to 39.6% in 2011, which is a small increase considering the collapse of the Liberal Party.

    I think the Tories have a 50/50 chance of losing power in the next election. If the NDP and Liberals managed to win more seats than the Tories, I think they will brush aside their ego to form some sort of coalition or agreement. (In the current political scene the Liberal Party should have no ego what so ever.)

    NDP and Liberal votes are not always interchangeable. Their origins and party structure are different from each other. However, the Liberals and NDP have successfully worked together before and they can do it again. (National 1963-1968, 1972-1974, 2004-2005, Ontario 1985-1987, Saskatchewan 1999-2001)


  6. Maple a coalition would work !

    BUT it should be campaigned on. Otherwise Harper will just slam the leaders as dishonest for their half hearted denials.

    Ignatieff found you get all the downside and none of the potential upside when you play games like those.

    We all knew and supported his desire for a coalition but he had to keep it secret because Harper demonized it.

    In the end it just made Ignatieff look arrogant and secretive.

    The new Liberal and the new NDP leader need to pledge that they will join forces to form government !!

    No merger needed, just a formal pledge of cooperation. Maybe even strategic voting ?

  7. Yeah, I agree a coalition would work. With the Bloc eliminated in Quebec, the Liberals and NDP have more space to form the majority of seats. The coalition idea was implemented poorly by Dion, and Ignatieff was never frank about it.

    The only problem is whether the coalition should be led by the Liberals or NDP. Will the Liberals campaign to win more seats than the NDP?

    - Maple

  8. While the Bloq will likely rebound to official party status (at least) next time around, I can still easily see the NDP winning the majority of seats in Quebec, after all it seems the national question is growing a bit tiresome and the NDP is right now the best federalist party to represent the views of the largest number of Quebecers. They did have a number of known local candidates during the election as well.

  9. Goaltender Interference29 August, 2011 10:07

    The Bloc would be very unwise to hold a leadership convention soon. If they choose one of their four sitting MPs, none of which have any visibility in Quebec, the party will simply disappear for lack of interest.

    Their only hope is getting a well-known PQ stalwart to take rebuilding the Bloc on as a retirement project. Even before the election, there were some PQ activists who saw the Bloc as the minor leagues or even as a distraction. With the PQ in the middle of infighting and having not yet come to a consensus on the future of the Bloc, it's hard to see anyone of substance taking on the job.

  10. I'd like to see Vivian Barbot go for it. She's already acting leader and would send a powerful message. She was even an ESL teacher at one point.


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