Important Elections in Quebec and Ontario - Why they matter
Two sets of elections in Canada's two biggest provinces next week and both are important.
In Quebec it is a full scale provincial election, probably called by Premier Jean Charest as a bit of a Hail Mary on the basis that his government was already suffering from terminal political fatigue and maybe a campaign would jolt people into forgetting about that and giving him one more chance.
That appears not to be happening. And before I predict a bad week for Mr Charest next week, I would remind us all of the fact that he did step up and take on the leadership of the Quebec Liberal party when it was no big prize and that he did serve as the most pro-Canada federalist Premier of Quebec in a long long time, and that was good for Quebec and good for Canada.
Whatever the increased role for the separatist Parti Quebecois after the election, it will be destabilizing for Quebec and for Canada. We haven't had to worry about that for all of the years Mr. Charest has been in office and I think we will be pining for his return in about 12 months if not sooner.
I learned through many campaigns, my own and others, that momentum is everything in the last 3 weeks and right now, the PQ is sitting atop the polls with some stability, the positive momentum is with the upstart CAQ led by the former separatist Francois Legault and the negative momentum is with Mr Charest and the Liberals. In the latter case, it’s like air leaking out of a tire--you just can't do much about it.
All of the pundits have been predicting a PQ majority for some time. I don't think they will make it to majority because I think a lot of Quebeckers know how damaging it will be to have the separatists back in government.
If they get a minority and the Liberals and CAQ get the majority of the seats I hope they will discuss what should then happen given what is at stake (years of separation anxiety)--that they should govern together for a while even, wait for it, with Mr. Charest remaining as Premier. Whether that is even viable will depend on just how badly his party does next week. I think they will do better than the total destruction being predicted, thus opening the door to a pro Canada arrangement.
In Ontario, only two by elections but they will have a big impact on the governance of Ontario and on the leadership of two political parties.
The Vaughan by-election will go convincingly to the Liberals. That may be why it was added to the one in Kitchener Waterloo--to ensure the Liberals had at least one win next Thursday and can claim they still dominate in the GTA-- a nut the PC's have to crack to form government.
The Kitchener Waterloo by election is more complicated. It’s a seat held by the PC's but not really a PC seat if you look at the long long history.
I think in the end the dissatisfaction with the McGuinty government will prevent them from snatching this seat from the PC's (let's face it this by election wouldn't have been happening if that hadn't been a possibility).
So who will win? It’s a tossup I think. And I would have to give the edge to the NDP. Why? Back to momentum. They have gained strength throughout the campaign, have a very respected and previously elected school board chair as their candidate and stand as a logical repository for voters like teachers who used to vote for the Liberals, have soured on them, but aren't happier with the PC's.
So let's say I am right. No change in the overall status in the Legislature if the Libs win one and lose one (the PC's are still very much in the fight in Kitchener Waterloo).
But watch what happens with regard to the leadership of two parties, Libs and PC's.
Dalton won't be under any pressure to go, but he will be thinking about it if he has failed to regain an effective majority.
And Tim Hudak has survived his mandatory leadership review quite handily but that won't stop the malcontents in his own Party from saying he couldn't hold a longtime PC seat or make a breakthrough in the GTA and they will be agitating against him. Trust me, I know from personal experience those vultures are just waiting for the chance and as an opposition party leader there is little you can do to quell these squalls, motivated entirely by the self interest of the agitators and without regard to the best interests of the Party.
Over to the voters and we'll see if I am right about any of this.