Tuesday, November 30, 2010

KAMOURASKA-TÉMISCOUATA

Last Quebec held a by-election as well.   The by-election came about because of the resignation of Claude Béchard who then died on the same day he resigned from cancer.  I am interested in this election because of what it says about the next Quebec election.

Kamouraska-Témiscouata has been safely Liberal most of the time and has voted Non in both referendums. The PQ won it both times under René Lévesque but not when the PQ was in power from 1994 to 2003.

The seat was narrowly won by the Parti Quebois last night on a 57% voter turnout.   The ADQ and Quebec Solidaire basically got the same vote yesterday as they did in 2008.   For the ADQ is this is another indication of the problems they are having, they were close to winning the seat in 2007.

This changes the National Assembly to:

  • Liberals - 65
  • PQ - 52
  • ADQ - 4
  • QS - 1
  • Ind - 3

This leaves the government with a thin majority, likely good enough to stay in power, but close enough that something could go wrong and the government could fall.

The polls have been consistently showing the PQ at 40% and the Liberals close to 30%.   The by-election highlights the current strength of the PQ under Pauline Marois.   It seems realistic to expect Quebec to elect the PQ in the next election.

As things stand now, I do not expect to see a Quebec election till sometime in 2013 and I suspect with a new leader of the Liberals.  Is there someone within the Liberals that can bring the party back up over 40% of the vote?

Any election of a PQ government will change the political focus in Canada back to the issues of Quebec.  Whoever is the federal government when Pauline Marois becomes prime minister of Quebec will focus on what is needed to ensure the next referendum on sovereignty would be put on hold indefinitely.  Her focus will be on making people want to have independence before she calls the referendum.  

If starting in 2013 there is a stronger federal focus on Quebec issues there will be a backlash in Western Canada.   If the federal government is a Conservative one, who knows where this backlash will go, last time it ended up creating the Reform Party.   What seem to be the demands of the PQ will cause a huge problem if they are only granted to Quebec.   If they are granted to all provinces, the federal government looks weak and Quebec does not feel like it has a special status within Canada.

It would be easy to piss off the people of Quebec and raise the desire for independence, a smart prime minister of Quebec would be able to use their power to make an issue of it.  

Ultimately the federal government has to figure out how to appease Quebec but not drive the west to want to seek independence.   The western most provinces in Canada are economically not connected to the east and in fact have had lower economic growth and higher taxes from being part of Canada.   There is no reason a country of Western Canada could not succeed.

The election of the PQ could very well bring about a new political crisis in about five to seven years.
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