Monday, March 26, 2007

Big Changes Coming in Quebec Tonight

On February 19th my posting asked “Could the Week of March 20-26 Change Canada.?” I was out by one day when the federal budget came out on the 19th. The Quebec election was not yet set for the 26th but I got that date right at least.

It is interesting to reflect on what I thought then and what has happened since. I predicted the Cons budget “…is going to be as bountiful for Quebec as you can imagine…and designed to ‘ensure’ a Charest victory.” Truer words were never spoken, except it did not work for Charest and Harper!

My intuition on February 19th was Dumont would be the big political winner out of the election when I predicted “…that Dumont and the ADQ are going to spoil the party for Charest and Harper. He is not going to win but he is going to be the winner. Quebecers like to make favourable federalist deals but they don’t like to be bought off overtly nor played for fools.” That has proven to be true too.

I said then “It is going to be a fundamental and future changing week for Canada, never mind the shenanigans of Harper and Charest. My guess is Quebec will take the money, Charest will win, the PQ Boisclair will be a bust and told by his party to hit the road and Dumont will hold the balance of Quebec power at the end or the day.

Then I predicted Dion will force the federal election on the Harper Budget and the future of Canada as a nation will once again be at play. We will not have an election over the Budget but we may have it over the Cons environmental package - but I don’t see it happening now until the fall…and that is a good thing.

As for the Quebec election outcome tonight I have another "what if" scenario. Recent media reports attribute this insightful analysis to Pollster Jean-Marc Leger who said, “Essentially Quebecers want Mario Dumont as Premier, they want the Liberal team and they want the PQ platform put into effect.”

So true, but is that going to be the outcome? I think it is entirely possible that the Leger observation of what Quebecers want can become a reality. Consider if Dumont forms the minority government and then the Charest team is in the catbird seat in supporting his minority government, then they can institute PQ policy. The PQ will be too are busy burying Boisclair by forcing a new leadership race. Quebec can have it all. The ADQ's real friends in the Harper government will be receptive because it can mean more CPC seats in Quebec. And Quebec can still have the luxury of using the tried and true referendum threats to extort more power and cash from Canada. Harper has already proven himself to be obliging to Quebec's perceived needs - even without extortion.

Quebecers have signalled through poll results that they are changing, and they want real change and they not prepared to be trifled with. A message is about to be sent in this election to the status quo federalists (read Liberals) and the status quo separatists (read PQ). The last time Quebecers decided to send a ballot box message that they wanted some real change was 1976 when they voted in the separatist government of Rene Levesque. It was a shock to the province and the nation because it seemed to happen out of nowhere particularly to those conventional wise men who thought tomorrow was a mere extension of yesterday. That made them blind to the signs of the serious change that was coming.

If the conventional wisdom today is correct that the two tired old-line parties are found to be wanting of trust and respect, it might just happen again. Are we seeing a sea-change in the politics of La Belle Province? What would be the consequences if the collective, but quite wisdom of Quebecers, decided today, impulsively and intuitively right at the polling station, and at the very moment of putting down their “X” they wanted once again to send a strong message to the "politics-as-usual" crowd?

What if Quebecers en masse decided the ballot question today was to reject the tired old line federalist-separatist lens of Quebec politics and they voted strongly for the ADQ, the so-called "third party?" Could we have an ADQ minority government emerge later tonight? It is as realistic as any other possible outcome under the current circumstances.

What ever the election outcome in Quebec today, some folks in the ADQ will be partying like it is 1976 again. All this in the face of a pending federal election of uncertain timing and outcome too. I smell real democracy and big time fundamental change in the air, not only for Quebec but for Canada too.

Fasten your seat belts Canada; we are flying into some serious turbulence no matter who wins the Quebec election.