Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quebec Elections

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has just proven so politically adept that he's done the constitutionally impossible-- he's just won the provincial election in Quebec.

Jean Charest's Liberals were left in government, but hobbled by minority status. The Parti Quebecois has been virtually broken, and will soon eat its leader alive. The ADQ, under Mario Dumont, however ascendant it may be, can't form a government. The federal Conservative Party is the only real winner here--they get a provincial government they can work with, no risk of a referendum, and a plausible voter base for a federal election.

For those of us who call ourselves federalists (eg, more or less all of English Canada), this is a pretty good result--the sovereigntist movement has been all but crippled. For those of us who oppose the national conservatives, however, it's a worrying trend indeed.

Dumont, meantime, who the press seems to think is the man of the hour, looks a little scarier every day. His emphasis on opposing 'reasonable accommodation' is a bit scary. The practice of providing for the cultural and religious needs of minorities--eg, making pork-free baked beans available at sugar shacks--probably wouldn't raise any eyes in the rest of Canada.

Perhaps Quebec really is the most European part of North America. Language and culture aside, it appears to suffer the same sort of political intolerance towards immigrants that many Western European countries do. As such, Dumont resembles not so much other Canadian conservatives, as the populist, anti-immigrant politicians of the European far right--France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, for example.

If this is so, even Harper may find him a bit much in the long run. As he engineers a national conservative coalition, he may want to watch his step.
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