Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Quebec and Canada Political Report

A political disaster has befallen Quebec. Seperatism has suffered it's worst setback since the Quiet Revolution. Quebec Liberalism stands on it's last legs. The far-right is on the rise. Montreal is isolated from the rest of the Province and Canada politically and socially. The reationary politics of Duplessis have made a stunning comeback. Trudeau Liberalism is fading. Harper with his Reform-Alliance Conservatives stand on the precipice of majority government. Xenophobia, homophobia and racism, which have long been strong political currency in the US and Europe, have made a strong debut in Canada and Quebec. Mario Dumont, the Joerg Haider of Quebec is poised to become Premier within a few years.

The results of the rise of the right wing in Canada is the result of right wing politicians having taken over the Liberal Parties of Canada and Quebec respectively. Readers of this blog should read ''Canadian Brief'' for my analysis of the federal political situtation. The rise of Harper was due to Paul Martin pushing the Liberal Party of Canada to the right. The rise of Dumont in Quebec is the result of a former federal Tory politician becoming the leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec. The right wing virus has infected Liberalism in Canada and Quebec. This virus has weakend Liberalism and has allowed the right wing to rise.
The results of the last two elections both Quebec and Federally have revealed a political gulf between the major cities and the rual areas. This has been the case with the US since 2000 and with Austria since 1999. The Dumont vote in Quebec was for the most part an anti-Montreal vote. Montreal remains the most progressive city in North America. This report is an analysis of the provincial and federal political landscape vis-a-vis Montreal.

The Island of Montreal saved Premier Jean Charest's neck. The island also saved the Parti Quebecois from political irrevelance. Mario Dumont's ADQ did not win a single seat in Montreal. In Outremont, Mercier, Rosemont, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, St. Louis-Westmount and the West Island the ADQ was shattered. Even in the West Island where the ADQ came in second place, the Liberals won by a landslide. The English bastion of the West Island was never PQ territory nor will it ever be.
On the Federal level, the Conservatives will never come close to winning a riding on the Island of Montreal. The East is solidily PQ and Bloc Quebecois. The West is Liberal. No matter how one tries to vote in those areas the results will always remain unchanged.
Quebec Solidaire is a first class disaster. The Green Party beat them. The merger between the UFP(Union des Forces Progressivtists) and Option Cityonne was a stragetic blunder of the far left. There is going to be an upheaval within Quebec Solidaire. If the party is lucky, it might win Mercier by fluke in one or two elections. In Outremont, Quebec Solidaire might eventually become the permanentent second place party.
The fatal mistake of the far left in Montreal is its pro-separtist stance. In Montreal it is holy dogma on the left to be pro-separtist. It is rare to find a leftist in Montreal critical or skeptical of separtism. The author is virtually alone in his political stance of opposing or at least questioning the validity or wisdom of seperatism.
The Greens pulled a stunning result in Westmount-St. Louis by placing second destroying the PQ, ADQ and QS. The Greens are poised to become the 2nd choice for Montreal Anglos after the Liberals.
The Island of Montreal has seen its once formidble political clout in federal and provincial politics evaporate over the past year. The 2006 election was the first time that the party in power did not win a at least half the seats of Montreal. The Conservatives finished 3rd on the Island of Montreal. It may be possible that Dumont will become Premier with a minority government without a single seat on the Island of Montreal.
Should the Conservatives managed to hold on to Federal power with another minority or even a majority, they are going to find it difficult to govern without any clout or mandate from Canada's second largest city. The Quebec Liberals will limp and stagger along in power only becase Montreal will not budge for the ADQ.
On the municpal level it appears that Gerald Trembley is finished. He will serve his mandate for another 3 years before he is booted. This will mostly be the result of the contempt he showed for public opinion in his effort to re-name Avenue du Parc after the late Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa.
Mario Dumont knows that his name is Mud on the Island of Montreal. Harper knows that Montreal is a write off. No amount of bribes and treats will make Montreal vote for him.
Montreal is going to be further isolated politically and geographically from the rest of Quebec and Canada. History has shown the powder keg Montreal is politically when it's isolated. The military has been sent into Montreal 3 times since 1848.
It may very well be true that rual Quebec has discovered captialism and its residents aspire to become petit bougoisie. Montreal is solidly proletarian. The Bougoisie of Outremont and Westmount have little time for narrow minded provincialism. The middle classes of Lachine, Dorval, Beaconsfield and Pointe Claire have solid values of liberalism and tolerance. The Island of Montreal is too multi-cultural for racist bigots to win. Montréal Nord, Parc Ex, Mile End, Outremont, Cote des Neiges, NDG and LaSalle are too dark and mixed for the reactionaries to gain a foot hold. Any increased racisal repression will lead to serious unrest as the Montreal Police know too well. Montreal is the most class conscious city in North America. The labour unions are militant and run Montreal from A to Z. The unions can call a general strike and cripple Canada's second largest city. Despite the deeply ingrained racism of the white working class people of Hochelaga-Maisonneueve and the SudOuest districts of Pointe St. Charles, St, Henri and Verdun; their class consciousness is solid. No matter how much Harper and Dumont may try to race bait, the white working class of Montreal know that neither the Reform-Alliance Conservatives nor the ADQ have their economic interests at heart. The reactionaries are still out numbered in Montreal by a ratio of 4 to 1.
Federal Liberal Party Stephane Dion is slowly gaining his bearings. Haprer is swinging wildly with pre-emptive attacks on television. Dion is a shrewd character. Dion has decided to punch back in French. Harper is weak in French. Dion is weak in English. Harper can land body blows against Dion in English but Dion can floor Harper in French. Moreover, Dion is a proven champion political warrior.
Dion stunned the largest, richest and most powerful political party of the Western Democratic world. The Liberal Party establishment opposed Dion and he embarassed it. Canada's top political strategists were humbled by Dion who came in from left field. If Dion can fight and beat the largest political machine in any Democracy, he can certainly defeat a rag tag of rual western Canadian seperatists. Harper knows this. The Reform-Allinace Conservatives achieved power by default. They do not have the organisation or the money that the Liberal Party of Canada have.
The North American media is obsessed with poll numbers. Poll numbers outside of election cycles are are not terribly insightful. The last two elections proved that. At the start of the Quebec campagin Charest had a 21 point lead. He blew it and almost lost. In the last Federal campaign, Martin had a 15 point lead at the start and lost it all. Elections in Canada are tricky. Harper currently may be in majority territory in the polls but so was Paul Martin 2 years ago.
Harper still has problems in Ontario and Quebec. He cannot win a majorty in Ontario and without Montreal he cannot win a majority in Quebec. Toronto and Montreal are not convinced by Harper. If Harper once again gets shut out of Toronto and Montreal in the next election (which he probably will) then he is stuck with a minority government. Moreover, even should Harper eke out a small majority government, his lack of political legitimacy in Toronto and Montreal will cause political and social unrest that no Canadian politican can afford.
Though rural Quebec and Quebec City may be favourable towards Haprer, Dion is still French Quebecois. The Quebecois see themselves as a Nation and their solidarity runs deep. This is the question:
Will Quebec City, the hometown of Dion, along with rual Quebec reject one of their own in favour of an Anglo from Alberta? Most likely not. If Bob Rae or Micheal Ignatieff had won the Liberal leadership, the choice would have been between an Ontario Liberal and an Alberta Reformer. In that scenario rual Quebec and the provincial capital would most likely chose the latter. However, since the choice will be between a Quebec Liberal and an Alberta Reformer, the Quebecois will more likely choose the former.
The NDP is toast. The expulsion of Buzz Hardgrove, the leader of the Canadian Auto Workers Union from the party was an act of masochistic self mutialitaion on the part of the NDP. The CAW was the backbbone of the NDP. Without the financial and political support of the country's largest private sector union the NDP might as well hat it up. Giving Hardgrove the bum's rush was the biggest political gift to the Liberal Party of Canada since the self destruction of the Progressive-Conservatives in 1993.
The boost that the NDP received in the 2006 election was a one time protest vote against the right wing politics of Paul Martin. Jack Layton has utterly failed to live up to his mandate. The reality of a right wing government has rattled half of the NDP's 2006 voting base back into the Liberal camp.
Making matters worse for the NDP is the rise of the Green Party. The younger generation of Canadian leftists view the Greens as the leftist alternative. The younger generation's politics are not shaped by the labour battles between the 1930s and 1970s. Their politics are shaped by the deteriorating environment and climate change. They are vegetarian and vegan. They are animal rights activists. The Greens mesh with their political philosophy and outlook on life. Within 10 years the Greens will supercede the NDP as the party of the far left.
Canada and Quebec stand at political crossroads. Will Quebec and Canada embrace or reject the left wing Liberalism that has shaped politics for the past 40 years? Will Quebec abandon the Liberal and radical changes ushered in by the Quiet Revotion which bagan 45 years ago as well as the seperatist politics of the last 35 years for reactionary bigotry and capitalism? Will Canada abandon it's Liberalism which started under Lester Pearson and cemented under Pierre Trudeau for reactionary conservatism? Will Canada give up it's independent foreign and domestic policies and allign them with those of the United States? Will the world's most diverse country which invented multi-culturalism and made ''Tolerance'' it's official political and cultural religion embrace xenophobia, racism and intolerance? The answers to these questions will be forthcoming in the next years.
-Vienna, Austria

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