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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Fifty Percent Solution

So how is that incrementalism going?

It's 2004 all over again, according to the big EKOS poll released by the CBC the other day. An election today would produce a Liberal minority government, at 36.7 per cent, with Conservatives at 30.2 per cent and the NDP down to 15.5 per cent.

In seat distribution, that would result in about 135 to 140 Liberals, including 75 seats in Ontario, as against 95 to 100 Conservatives, including none in Quebec - the result of the 2004 election that returned Paul Martin's Liberal minority government.

The Liberals are not only resurgent in Ontario, but in Quebec, where they have reclaimed their former status as the competitive federalist alternative to the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc is holding steady at 39.5 per cent, the Liberals at 33 per cent, the NDP at 11.7 per cent and the Conservatives at 10.9 per cent. In Quebec, those numbers would result in about 45 Bloc members and 30 Liberals, with the NDP and Conservatives putting up big fat zeros. Not even Maxime Bernier could hold on to his seat in the Beauce in such a trend.

Flattery will get you so far, so will bribery, but what exactly has Stephen Harper's government offered Quebec that's different and substantive?  More cash?  More powers?  More international clout?  Despite the fierce protestations of the Liberals, both parties have practiced an asymmetrical federalism regarding Quebec.  Grant the Quebecois de facto autonomy and hope they don't take the increasingly small step toward independence.  Make them financially dependent and they'll be afraid to strike out on their own.  La Belle Province is, with the exception of the Maritime provinces, the most addicted jurisdiction in Canada to the welfare state, a reality eagerly created by both federalists (keen to retain the province) and separatists keen to have someone else foot the bill for their lavish social programs.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 22, 2009 | Permalink



Ever notice how the people who criticize Harper for not being right wing enough come exclusively from the left wing of the party, and in some cases they aren't even conservative at all (Mike Brock for example), they just present themselves as conservatives to attempt to divide and conquer?

You're a lefty, Pub, don't make me prove it. An innumerate, politically and economically ignorant lefty, who lives in an imaginary world where Harper has a majority and can actually impose his will on the house. Leave the criticism of conservatives to us conservatives, you aren't at all credible on the matter.

Quite an act to be a lefty and accuse Harper of being too left. Why not pass the hat around and hire a conservative, which is to say one of your betters, to construct a sensible argument for a change criticizing Harper? I'm always ready to play ball, I'm not sure if you can afford my rate but hey, at least I offered.

Posted by: No Commies | 2009-04-22 5:47:51 AM

No Commies,

Publius is certainly no lefty. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

All he's doing is pointing out that Harper has told the faithful over and over that a policy of incremental conservatism will win over Liberal voters and "soft" Quebec nationalists and thereby open the door to an eventual majority. When will Harper and his die hard cheerleaders admit that this strategy is an abject failure? At this point, it looks increasingly like it's going to result in a Liberal minority government.

Posted by: Dennis | 2009-04-22 7:08:54 AM

Incrementalism won't win over Quebec. It's cultural.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-04-22 7:41:55 AM

It's time for Alberta to leave the party and grow up.

Posted by: Pete | 2009-04-22 8:08:28 AM

Quebec is a different country. They are different from the rest of Canada by almost every measure.

Let them form their own country and leave if that will make them happy.

And then the rest of the country can get on with business and progress and end this wasteful appeasement and corruption.

Posted by: epsilon | 2009-04-22 9:21:23 AM

Any news that is bad for the Conservatives is good news to me. Hopefully Iggy will soon give Harper the boot, and return this country to sanity. I'm not a big fan of the Liberals, but they are a lot better than Harper and his Ned Flanders bunch of bible thumpers.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-04-22 9:51:49 AM

As a wise man once observed:

A conservative is a liberal mugged by reality.
A libertarian / classical liberal is a conservative mugged by the government.

I had very high hopes for Mr Harper, tolerated his incrementalism for nearly three years, and came to the conclusion that either he surrendered principles for power, or more likely - as suggested by his performance at the Manning Institute (noted on this blog by Mike Brock) he just doesn't understand the pro-freedom argument.

He is not as bad as the alternative, but it's clear his tactics had a very short shelf life, which we have come to the end.

Posted by: Publius | 2009-04-22 11:49:27 AM

Publius' observation that Harper's tactics had a short shelf life is absolutely correct. Conservatives in this country have patiently waited while those tactics were employed. The results have not lived up to the expectations. It's time to move on.

Posted by: Dennis | 2009-04-22 11:58:14 AM

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