Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quebec Tri-Election Analysis

While byelections don't amount to a hill of beans in relation to the next general election, the three byelections (or tri-election) in Quebec appear to have had a significant impact on each party's apparatus and confidence. All of this is good news for the Conservatives.

Warren Kinsella shows the total combined votes for all three ridings:
Bloc 2398328.1

So what does this show?

1. Exposed Liberal infighting. Rumours are that 2nd place leadership hopeful and deputy leader Michael Ignatieff, and perhaps third place leadership finisher, Bob Rae, secretly orchestrated the Liberal defeat in the traditionally Liberal-friendly riding of Outremont in Montreal to shed darkness upon the "leadership" of Stephane Dion. If this tactic continues, and there aren't big changes in the party apparatus by Dion and he stops appointing candidates, undermining the grassroots (not that the Liberals really have any), look to see Dion's Liberals get trounced next election, especially in Quebec. The sharks are circling around him big time. The question is how much of a bite do these sharks want to take out of the party?

2. False Hope for NDP. I like it when the NDP win where the Liberals should have. People have been wondering where Jack Layton's been lately. Apparently he was busy getting votes in one riding. One riding. Not 308. Outremont is a fairly wealthy riding and it seems the NDP appealled to the rich socialists who used to vote Liberal, because it was the "in" thing to do. The NDP candidate had slick looking signs everywhere--way more than the other guys. All in all, this "all-in" NDP riding only means Jack gets to be leader for another election or two and does not mean an NDP breakthrough in Quebec. It will mean that the NDP will put more wasted effort in Quebec and hopefully for the Conservatives, the NDP won't put as much time in British Columbia like they did last election where the Conservatives lost 8 ridings to the NDP. And keep in mind that the Green Party will continue to bite away at soft NDP voters.

3. Conservatives are strong in Quebec outside Montreal. In these two ridings, they easily won one of them, and came a close second in the other. The Liberals were wiped out. Either the Quebec "Nation" resolution earlier this year appears to have had a significant impact on Quebecker's minds, that the clear federalist option now defaults to the Conservatives because Dion is seen as a weak leader, or both. Harper can only dream that Dion stays on as leader for the next election. This tri-election means that the Conservatives are now well established in Quebec and provides a lot of confidence to build toward a majority next election, now likely in 2009.

Updated House of Commons party standings (from Wikipedia):

Conservative Party * 18 28 12 8 41 11 3 2

Liberal Party * 7
1 3 51 12 6 6 4 4 1
1 96
Bloc Québécois *


New Democratic Party * 10

3 12 1 1 2

Independent *


Vacant * 1

Total 36 28 14 14 106 75 10 11 4 7 1 1 1 308

Conservatives (126) + Bloc Quebecois (49) = 175
Liberal (96) + NDP (30) = 126

Even the Conservatives + NDP = 156 which is more than 50%.

These are the reasons why Harper won't call an election until 2009. He doesn't need to. The big issue then will be the mission in Afghanistan. This, however, won't play well in Quebec, where support for the mission is low. It will be interesting to see how Harper spins this.

In other news, Prime Minister Harper will be meeting His Holiness The Dalai Lama next month, despite objections from the Chinese communist government. Note that the Conservative government awarded honourary Canadian citizenship to the Tibetan Buddhist leader last year.