Saturday, May 7, 2011

Has Jack Layton Created a Parking Lot in Quebec?

Jeffrey Simpson said recently, that "NDP support in Quebec is a mile wide, and an inch deep. It's not a political revolution, it's the NDP as a parking lot."

And I think he may be right. There was no big seismic shift in the province.

And federalism did not score a victory.
Several of the NDP's new Quebec MPs have expressed support for Quebec independence, putting the party on a collision course with an issue it may rather avoid: national unity. The party is celebrating its success in knocking out the Bloc Quebecois and bringing nationalist Quebecers back into the fold of national politics, following two decades of disengagement.

But the divergent leanings within the NDP caucus on such a fundamental issue raise questions about how Jack Layton plans to maintain peace within his own party, let alone the federation, when divisive issues inevitably pop up.
Simply stating that he will allow no separatist discussions, will not change fundamental beliefs.

In fact, according to Jean-Francois Lisee, the Bloc is experiencing a renewal. From Tuesday morning, the day after the election, to Friday midday, 450 people bought or renewed their memberships. A record. And not one person has asked to leave the party.

This will create quite a balancing act for the NDP, a federalist party.

And according to Peter White in the National Post, an opportunity for the Conservatives to cash in.
As a judicial recount in one of the Tories' six seats in Quebec threatens to bring their Quebec seat count down to a mere five, the Prime Minister must send a potent signal to reassure Quebecers that he understands and recognizes Quebec's importance within the federation and in his new government.

Mr. Harper also needs to reach out to the inner conservative that lies dormant in the hearts of most Quebecers. How to kill these two birds with one stone? Appoint Maxime Bernier as President of the Treasury Board.
I expect that Harper will bring all of his Quebec MPs into cabinet, making sure that any spending for the province goes through them.

Then come election time he'll try to push his way through the province.

However, if he eventually has to answer to all of the corruption, this will not sit will with Quebec, so the Bloc could return as strong as ever.

I just want to say something to NDP supporters. I read on twitter and other social media outlets, that you feel that your party is being treated unjustly now.

But you have to remember that as the official opposition you will be scrutinized much closer, so you'll have to develop a thick skin. Otherwise, the media will eat you alive.

I am still an NDP supporter as part of a progressive Canada. However, I feel that Canada has lost something now, with no centre, so I'll be pushing for a renewal of the Liberal brand, so that the Liberal/PCs have a place to call home.

My only beef with Jack Layton is that he teamed up with Harper to destroy other progressives, and he may pay for his misguided adventure. Let's hope his party doesn't.


  1. Great blog!

    By the way, it's Jean-François Lisée and not Jean-Françoise! :P

  2. You have a really good point here. Canada's natural ruling Party should be a Centre-Left Coalition. Layton has only moved us closer to a two party system by helping Harper kick out the centre.

    I apologize for getting so upset earlier. The idea of a Layton lead minority government completely intoxicated me, and to hear a greatly admired Canadian progressive opposing that movement brought out my most partisan side.

  3. I don't understand how many people are scared or spooked with the idea of new parties taking the places of old parties.

    With all political theories not just democracies you have the possibilities for corruption. If a government becomes corrupt, the party also partakes.

    The Cons and Grits are very much on the same side. If a new, purely clean government becomes corrupt, the party has a chance to survive the corruption, rebuild, and start anew. However, when corruption has been around for years and years. And the same two parties are re-elected over time, the corruption is never dealt with.

    On a different note, I too am an NDP supporter and was very glad to see the gains for the NDP, and loss for the BQ. And I am weary of two things, the Separatist values splitting up the party, and the differences between the social democrats, and the liberals within the NDP.

    I don't want to see the NDP and Liberals merge, and I don't want to see a surge in the BQ or those values within the NDP.

    Not to say I don't want to hear about Quebec issues in Parliament, I just want an equal share in voice from all regions.

  4. Vent all you want Modal. I have no problem with that at all.

    And as to Jack Layton working with Harper, you have to remember that the Hrper gov't is corrupt, so choosing that makes Layton no better.

    He sided with contempt and corruption over Canadian values.

  5. JF Lisee did not say people were rushing to get BQ memberships, he said they were renewing or obtaining PQ memberships. A letter was published "apologising" to Gilles Duceppe for voting NDP adding that the PQ membership was renewed. Remember that Quebec people voted NDP in order to oust the despised Harper, as well as to express support for social democracy that the BQ advocated. Harper is the most hated prime minister in Quebec in decades. It looks like Lucien Bouchard's winning conditions are developing. The Quebec model shall not be crucified upon Harper's neoliberal cross.

  6. I spoke with some French Canadian acquaintances before the election, and they said they were going to vote NDP because Jack spoke French well during the debate - he was 'un bon Jack' (a regular guy). This was an (understandably) important consideration for Quebecers.

    However, I think support for the NDP in Quebec could evaporate as quickly as water from a shallow mud puddle after a summer shower - especially if another federalist party had a truly bilingual leader.

  7. What Harper has successfully managed to do, and what the NDP helped him do, is to tar and feather the Liberals as corrupt.

    Witness comments on this very board, making assumptions that the Liberal government was broadly corrupt.

    The only corruption that can be linked to the Liberals is the "Sponsorship Scandal" or "adscam". But do Canadians actually have a sense of what the "Sponsorship Scandal" was about, and how much money was actually involved?

    Out of a $250 Million dollar program, which sponsored community fairs and events across the nation, the extremely biased Gomery Enquiry was only able to turn up $2 M awarded in contracts without a proper bidding process, $250 K added to a contract for which no additional work was eventually performed, and $1.5 M awarded for work that was never done, of which $1 M was recovered.

    So the national Liberal Party has been painted as corrupt and destroyed because of $3.25 M, which was mismanaged in the province of Quebec. How many Canadians realize the amount in question is only $3.25 M?? How many Canadians realize that the Sponsorship Scandal did not involve $100M as initially (and extremely unprofessionally) alleged by Sheila Fraser? How many have that context?

    And how many Canadians have bothered to reflect upon the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that the Liberal governments of Chrètien and Martin managed with an exemplary unblemished record?

    Contrast this with the money Clement personally handed out for the G20 summit -- why was there no scandal??? There should have been! And the sums in question are far, far higher than those of the Sponsorship Scandal. What about the jet fighters, the prisons, the use of taxpayer dollars for partisan advertizing??!!! The In and Out Scandal alone, besides corrupting an election, involved theft of a much larger amount of taxpayer dollars then the Sponsorship Scandal. These Con transgressions exemplify a level of corruption the Liberals were disciplined and principled enough to never even begin to approach. And I am disgusted that the NDP do not try to hold the Cons to account.

    The media, the Cons, and yes, the NDP will not help Canadians see the truth, but continue to distort the Liberal record.

    I am not a LIberal Party member, but I am sick and tired of the NDP joining the Cons in distorting and misrepresenting the Liberal record, and making throwaway assumptions that Liberals are corrupt.

    I take great exception to this particular comment:

    "The Cons and Grits are very much on the same side. If a new, purely clean government becomes corrupt, the party has a chance to survive the corruption, rebuild, and start anew. However, when corruption has been around for years and years. And the same two parties are re-elected over time, the corruption is never dealt with."

    The NDP has never experienced the sort of scrutiny the Liberal Party has since they have never been in government. It's very easy to dish out the criticism, but very difficult to actually govern well.

    We'll see over the next 4 years how they weather the attention paid to them as the Official Opposition. But between Thomas Muclair and Ruth Ellen Brosseau the NDP is not off to the best of starts.

  8. Thank you everyone. I always learn so much from my readers.

  9. And not to forget that the person in charge of doling out the Sponsorship money was Mulroney's Chuck Guite who was taking under the table $$$ Then Paul Martin who wanted to stick it to Chretien call for the inquiry.

    Let's have an accounting on all the stimulus money the Cons have been sending all over the country to CONSERVATIVE riding's plus millions spent on signs and sign counting, plus G8/20. Now that's a scandal.

    Whoever takes over the Liberal party must arm themselves with historical facts and fight back at all the lies and innuendos from Jack and Harper. Nail them for the sleaze they spread about the Liberals.