Wow, they’re actually admitting it. On-again/off-again Bloc Leader and die-hard soverignist Gilles Duceppe endorsed Denis Coderre, a staunch Liberal and federalist, in his bid for re-election as Mayor of Montreal.

During the last Montreal Municipal Election campaign in 2013, there were rumors that supporters of the Liberals (both provincial and federal), the Bloc Québécois (BQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) were secretly pushing Melanie Joly’s candidacy for Mayor, not in hopes that she would win, but that she would split the anti-establishment vote and prevent a Projet Montréal victory. Whether there was involvement from those forces or not, that’s exactly what happened: Coderre won and Joly was off to greener pastures in Ottawa.

But why would these seemingly divergent groups have a common goal? The argument goes that establishment parties would do anything to stop anyone loosely aligned, even in terms of who supports them, with parties like the Federal NDP or Québec Solidaire (QS) provincially.

While that may seem like pie in the sky conspiracy stuff, Gilles Duceppe just endorsed Denis Coderre and he said why. Mixed in with reasons/excuses like how he feels the Pink line is unrealistic and there are a couple of soverignist candidates on Equipe Coderre, Duceppe said that Plante and Projet were “too close to QS and the NDP.”

For decades, both the federalist provincial and federal Libs and the sovereignist PQ and BQ thrived on everyone being focused on the National Question and the division it brings instead of more pressing issues like the corporate dominance, austerity and, more locally, transit. Now that their dominance is threatened at the municipal level by an arguably leftist party with a dynamic leader who is concerned with making life in Montreal better above all, they are scared.

Moreover, they are getting desperate. Desperate enough, apparently, to get in bed together publicly.

Earlier this week, establishment press tried to make a big deal out of Projet Leader Valérie Plante not answering a question about how she voted in the 1995 referendum, a smart move considering this election is about Montreal, not the specter of sovereignty and both sovereignists and federalists can be found in both main parties running. I wonder if they will give equal play to Coderre getting an endorsement from a prominent sovereignist like Duceppe.

Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Gilles Duceppe endorsed Denis Coderre. The other shoe has dropped.

This election is about the staus quo versus a new way of doing things and it only took the Liberals and the Bloc to make that crystal clear.

It has all come down to this. Tomorrow night we will know the result of #ELXN42, the longest Canadian Federal Election campaign in recent memory.

With millions of votes already cast in advance polls, no more nationally televised debates left, and no real time for new media stories (except for huge ones) to take hold, it’s all about the ground game now. All the parties know it and have been sending their armies of volunteers out to knock on doors and call voters all weekend and will quadruple their efforts tomorrow.

At this point, I think the election is still too close to call. Sure, each party will tell you that they are headed to victory and so will their pundits, but what will it actually take for each of them to win?

Well, here is my analysis, in the order the parties are currently polling nationally:

The Liberal Party of Canada (LPC)

liberal logoThey started at the bottom and now they’re here. On top of the polls. For this to become reality, recent polls need to be right as well as mainstream media predictions.

For Justin Trudeau to become our next Prime Minister, corporate pundits need to be correct and not just thinking wishfully. Or, they have to be powerful enough that their pieces cause their wishes to be fulfilled.

If enough Anyone But Conservative voters, particularly those in Ontario, think the niqab issue damaged NDP chances of retaining Quebec and lined up behind Trudeau, the Libs may pull it off. That is if the last minute scandal surrounding Dan Gagnier, their now former campaign co-chair/Enbridge lobbying tutor doesn’t take hold.

The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)

Conservative_Party_of_Canada.svgStephen Harper is a master electioneer, but his strategy may have finally caught up with him. Making it a super long campaign and then throwing a curveball covered in a niqab at his top ranked orange opponent late in the game was a brilliant, though morally bankrupt, strategy.

If the campaign had ended two weeks ago, it may just have worked. However, it’s possible things may have gone on just a bit too long for the Conservatives. Even Lynton Crosby, the so-called Australian Karl Rove, has jumped ship.

Crosby’s strategy is still at play, though. If Harper hopes to remain Prime Minister, Canadians not only need to be as xenophobic as he thinks, but their prejudice needs to be the first thing on their mind when they go to the polls.

Endorsements from corporate media at the behest of their owners could also help bring about a CPC victory as well as support from the wealthiest Canadians. Niche campaigning from the likes of the Ford brothers could help, too, but statements critical of Trudeau having smoked weed do more harm than good when they come from Doug Ford, an (alleged) former hash dealer and brother of admitted crack smoking mayor.

Plus they could always cheat.

New Democratic Party (NDP)

NDP-LogoRemember when I said that the ground game is the key? Well, that applies to the NDP more than any other party. With poll numbers sinking, the local candidates and their campaigns have the best chance of reassuring voters that a vote for the NDP is the best way to defeat Harper.

It would take a superb ground game this time out for Thomas Mulcair to become Prime Minister, but it is possible. Recent polls being wrong would help, too. Keeping the Quebec seats they won during the Orange Wave and adding a few more is essential, so the Bloc really needs to implode more than they have been.

They would also need a strong First Nations turnout, which may happen. Mulcair spent much of the last two weeks campaigning in First Nations communities promising an almost immediate inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, nation to nation dialogue and more. It may pay off in ways other than bolstering his progressive credentials.

Mulcair has been impressive even since the party’s poll numbers started tanking. He kept his cool in the TVA French debate and in a recent interview on Vice. That could help. The Gagnier scandal growing legs would help, too.

Green Party (Green)

Green-Logo-300x300The Green Party’s ultimate goal this election should be to retain the seats they have and win as many new ones as they can. If they succeed, they could end up wielding some power in a minority parliament.

Most of those seats will probably come in the west of the country where the party has been focusing their efforts. If their ground game was solid, they very well may achieve that goal. If not, well, as long as Elizabeth May still has a voice in Parliament, the party will not be in bad shape.

Bloc Quebecois (BQ)

bloc quebecois logoFor the Bloc, a victory is the majority of seats in Quebec. That’s just not going to happen.

At this point, the Bloc winning any seats would be impressive. If leader Gilles Duceppe wins his back and overall they top their 2011 seat count of four, it will be a victory for them.

For this to happen, it would take, for lack of a better word, a miracle. Their desperate play to the right on the niqab issue only benefited the Conservatives and indirectly the Liberals.

Bottom line, the Bloc is screwed.

What I Think Will Happen

While this not what I hope will happen, it’s what seems the most logical outcome on Monday evening will be. I predict a Minority Government. Regardless of which party comes out on top, I’m pretty sure none of them will win enough seats to form a majority.

Coalitions are possible and so is a huge role for the Governor General in selecting our next Prime Minister. But I guess only time will tell.

Oh yeah, there’s also still a few hours to vote in FTB’s Election Poll. The winner gets an endorsement post written on behalf of FTB readers published on election day.

Panelists Léo K. McKenna, Josh Davidson and Jerry Gabriel discuss upcoming Canadian Federal Election and dumpster food served as gourmet meals at the UN and what that means for food waste in Canada. Plus an interview with Jake Smith from Montreal band Lakes of Canada, the Community Calendar and Predictions.

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau

Panelists

Léo K. McKenna: Political pundit, music student, former political operative

Josh Davidson: FTB food columnist

Jerry Gabriel: FTB contributor

Interview segment by Hannah Besseau. Listen to Hannah’s full interview with Lakes of Canada on FTB.

Win tickets to the album launch and the album Transgressions with FTB and IndieMontreal!

FTB PODCAST #12: Lakes of Canada, Canadian Election and Dumpster Food at the UN by Forget The Box on Mixcloud

FTB Podcast also available on iTunes

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

I guess you could chalk it up to a victory for traditional debate media. The French language leaders’ debate or #debatdeschefs was hosted by Radio Canada, making it the first debate of this campaign hosted by media that usually host debates.

It was, by far, the fieriest and most interesting debate we’ve had this campaign. This could be because it was the first to feature five major party leaders, Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau, Elizabeth May and Gilles Duceppe. It could also be because the moderators knew how to ask the right questions. Regardless of the reason, it was a good one.

But how did the leaders do? Well…in no particular order, here’s what I thought (with a little help from the live tweets I made during the debate):

Gilles Duceppe

With the Bloc Quebecois tanking in the polls and Gilles Duceppe projected to lose badly in his own riding, this was the newly re-minted leader’s shot. He needed to pull off a knockout victory if he wanted to have a chance of taking back what the Bloc lost in 2011. He failed.

He did have some memorable moments, most notably when he turned the pipeline debate into an issue of separation of powers and was backed up by May. Before that moment, the energy section was just a re-hash of the previous two debates.

Duceppe also started strong with his opposition to women wearing the Niqab at citizenship ceremonies, something the Bloc has really been pushing in the past week. But then it turned into a debate between Mulcair and Harper. By that point Duceppe had faded into the background.

He also got left out of the fray when it came to rules for Quebec sovereignty. That turned into a debate between two federalists, Mulcair and Trudeau.

He was also responsible for one of the more confusing moments of the night when things turned to the Senate and the NDP’s plans to open the constitution in order to abolish it:

Duceppe has one more shot, the TVA debate on October 2nd, to save his party from obscurity.

Stephen Harper

Our sitting PM Stephen Harper seemed like he would rather have been actually sitting during most of this debate. He started off alert when the Niqab discussion was happening, claiming that he would never force his daughter to cover her face. Mulcair argued that the Conservative leader’s approach to helping oppressed women was wrong-headed. I had this to say:

After that, Harper seemed to doze off. Maybe he was trying to play the father figure unimpressed with the kids arguing or maybe he really just didn’t care. Regardless, he seemed to perk up near the end when discussion shifted to one of his favourite subjects:

Thomas Mulcair

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was king of the one-liner at this debate. From his comment on other parties incurring debt which ended with “for everything else, there’s MasterCard” to his line about Harper hiding his failed economic policy behind a niqab to this gem:

Leading the polls in Quebec, everyone thought Mulcair would be under fire from all sides in this debate and he was. He handled it by not really handling it. He didn’t go all Angry Tom, he stuck to his message instead. He offered the same delivery he did in English, that of someone carefully choosing his words.

He seemed rehearsed and holding back, but that worked in his favour this time. It said loud and clear that he isn’t really fazed by the nature of the debate. He was going to stick to script no matter what. Also, that he was the same debater in English and in French, countering some recent criticism.

No, he didn’t have a Layton moment, like the one that turned Quebec voter intentions into a wave that wiped out the Bloc in 2011, but one wasn’t needed and going after Duceppe would have been counter-productive. Better to treat him as an after-thought and focus on Harper instead.

The counter-argument is that by playing it mellow he wasn’t doing much to inspire Quebec voters, just reassure them that they had made the right choice. His best course of action would be to prepare things he is going to say, but go off script in the next two debates, once in English and once in French.

Justin Trudeau

By contrast, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau came across as natural. He looked good on camera and really tried to play to the crowd:

He looked like the perfect candidate to play the Prime Minister in a movie, and not just a CBC movie of the week, I’m talking about a major Hollywood production. The problem is he wasn’t working with a script that could really connect with voters. His best moment in the debate cast him in a supporting role, reminding Mulcair and Harper, who were arguing about niqabs and how best to protect women that the only woman in the room, May, had yet to speak on the subject. Kudos to him for calling out their man-splaining. It made him more likeable, for sure. Electable? Well…

Elizabeth May

It’s unfortunate that Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s French wasn’t better. If it had been, she probably would have interjected more and may have very well won the debate. She made some of the best observations of the evening. When everyone was talking Quebec independence, she was the only one to mention that natives had their own right to self-determination:

When the topic was the niqab she said loud and clear that it was a distraction, which then encouraged Trudeau and Mulcair to do the same.

Also, when Duceppe made the pipeline discussion about provincial jurisdiction, she agreed. She added, though, that the people of British Columbia were in solidarity with those in Quebec who did not want Ottawa imposing pipelines on their communities.

This debate helped breathe new life into a very long campaign that seemed to be dragging on for a while. Could the real winner of the debate possibly be the debate itself?

We just passed the mid-point in one of the longest Canadian Federal Election campaigns in a while. The stress of such a long campaign is starting to show, sometimes in quite hilarious ways.

Over the past few weeks, politicians and staffers alike have given us some moments that really make you do a double-take. Some are quite offensive, others are hilarious in how tone-deaf they are. All will make you wonder how supposedly seasoned political operatives could have let them slip by.

Enjoy:

Harper’s 24 Hour Surveillance

stephen-harper-campaign-signs-surveillance-stickers

When it comes to making your opponents’ greatest fears about you come alive visually yourself, no one beats Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. Afraid the CPC will take away your rights? Here’s a campaign sign advertising 24 hour surveillance with the image of a surveillance camera to really drive the point home.

Now, to be fair, there were some people vandalising election signs in Harper’s home riding of Calgary Heritage and it is illegal to vandalise political signage during an election. So, adding stickers to let would-be vandals know that they are being filmed and could be prosecuted does make sense.

That is, of course, until you remember that the potential audience for those stickers is all Canadian politicos on the internet. To dissuade a few people in Calgary with spray cans, the party behind Bill C-51 effectively advertised to the country that re-electing Harper meant 24 hour surveillance.

Gilles Duceppe Taking the Fight to Isis

Isis beware! Gilles Duceppe has you in his sights. The Bloc leader announced that a sovereign Quebec would fight the Islamic State.

This came as part of an announcement that the Bloc supports the Harper Government’s military mission in Syria. While that stance is a pretty desperate last-minute move to the right in and of itself, bringing Quebec sovereignty into the equation makes it a point of ridicule.

I don’t have to read the internet comments on this one to know what the general theme will be: just how Quebec is supposed to take on ISIS without a military of its own? Send the SQ to Syria?

If voters’ primary concern is engaging in foreign wars, they’re going to go with the guy who has already gotten us into them and plans to keep us there. And that’s not Gilles Duceppe.

Trudeau’s On a Plane!

This is a case of screwing up an announcement that should be run-of-the-mill. Due to the length of the campaign, the major parties with smaller war chests (all but The Conservatives) were only able to charter private jets to fly their leaders, staff and press around the country at the midway point. Until then, Mulcair and Trudeau had been flying commercial.

When they finally got their private, branded planes, the NDP and the Liberals announced it. While Mulcair was smart and made it part of a broader policy announcement of new aerospace jobs, Trudeau went the full-on the Andy Sandberg “I’m on a Boat!” route.

If you can think of a better way to prove your opponents’ criticism that you are out-of-touch and elite than bragging about your new private jet, please let me know. Otherwise watch this video and try not to have that Lonely Island song in your head:

 

The Bloc Going for the Xenophobic Environmentalist Vote

The Bloc makes a second appearance in this short list. Not surprising considering their whole campaign has pretty much been one big WTF moment from the time Gilles Duceppe became leader again without even a vote.

Have a look at their latest ad:

No, you’re not imagining things. In just 21 seconds, they went from slamming the NDP for their refusal to come out against pipelines to slamming them for their opposition to Harper’s attempts to ban the Niqab at swearing-in ceremonies for new immigrants.

Wedge issues are an effective way to mobilize a specific voter base. They work fine solo or in tandem with other issues that appeal to the same voter base like how opposition to marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose fit well together. The Bloc didn’t bring in Bush-Era Karl Rove, they brought in Rove drunk and passed off that the last cheque bounced.

I can only imagine the brainstorming session that went into this:

“So our attempt to get the xenophobe vote didn’t work and our play to the left to get pipeline opponents on board isn’t working either. I know, let’s try and appeal to both groups at the same time!”

“Hey, oil is black, and so are Niquabs. I’ll call the graphics department.”

This, of course, was followed by tears and reminiscing on how they once were the official opposition and came so close to being part of a coalition government.

Harper’s Old Stock Canadians

Thursday’s Globe and Mail Leaders’ Debate was, to be completely honest, kinda boring. Sure, there were some snarky comments exchanged, probably more than in the last debate, but overall just a lot of arguing over numbers. And then our current Prime Minister said this:

“So,” the internet wondered, “just what do you mean by old stock Canadians, Mr Harper?” Well, in Europe, “old stock” generally refers to the original inhabitants of the land, or longtime inhabitants. Like old English stock or old French stock.

So does that mean he was referring to the First Nations, whom his government has routinely screwed over? Nope. He clarified the following day that he was referring to Canadians who were “the descendants of immigrants for one or more generations.” And while he didn’t specify Western European descent, we all know he was talking about white people.

The racism and ignorance inherent in referring to people living on occupied land as old stock proves that Harper is a right-wing reactionary and a bigot with one small off-the-cuff remark. While it does qualify as a WTF moment, it also may help him solidify his base. Remember, his base is this guy:

old stock canadian

I would have liked to include some WTF moments from the NDP and the Green Party but the Greens have been doing everything right this time around and the only NDP screw-ups are of the direction and policy variety and make sense if you know Mulcair and the party. No double-takes possible. But the campaign’s still going, so they may make the cut next time.

Got any of your own #elxn42 WTF moments? Please share them in the comments.

Although it may feel like our federal politicians have been in election mode for a few months, Canada’s 2015 Federal Election was only officially called this morning, August 2nd. That’s eleven weeks away from Monday, October 19th, election day, making it the longest federal election campaign in recent memory.

I already know who I’m voting for. While sometimes I choose None of the Above, this year I’m going Orange and voting for my local NDP candidate, mainly because I want to see C-51 repealed.

That doesn’t mean that everyone involved with Forget the Box or our readers feel the same way. That’s why we don’t do political endorsements from the editorial team as many media outlets do.

Instead, we ask our readers, contributors and editors to decide who gets an endorsement, which I will write up, whether the result is what I want or not. You get a vote – one vote – but, just as with real politics, you can also campaign by sharing this poll with your friends on social media who agree with you. Believe me, if my choice isn’t winning a few days before the election, I will.

So here it is: FTB’s 2015 Canadian Federal Election Poll:

Who do you plan on voting for in the 2015 Canadian Federal Election?

  • New Democratic Party (NDP) (51%, 137 Votes)
  • Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) (30%, 82 Votes)
  • Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) (4%, 11 Votes)
  • Green Party of Canada (Green) (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Bloc Quebecois (BQ) (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Pirate Party of Canada (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada (1%, 4 Votes)
  • There's an Election? (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Communist Party of Canada (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Libertarian Party of Canada (1%, 3 Votes)
  • None of the Above (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Other (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Marijuana Party (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Forces et Démocratie (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Rhinoceros Party (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Non-affiliated Candidate (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 271

Loading ... Loading ...

You can vote above or in the sidebar of every page on the site. The poll closes at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time the day before electips day. The results and the endorsement post will be published the following day as people are voting for real.

We included as many so-called fringe parties as we felt our readers may actually consider voting for. If you’re planning on voting for a registered party not listed, you can either check the “other” box or let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to the list.

Pros and Cons

To get this started, I have compiled a list of the pros and cons of each political party as well as the None of the Above option. Now, what is considered pro and con is entirely subjective, but given the progressive bent of a large portion of our readership, these should pass the test. Honestly, it was kind of difficult coming up with “pros” for some parties, but I did it.

Please feel free to debate these pros and cons in the comments below and, of course, debate the election.

Here goes in the order they are currently polling in the major polling firms:

New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP)

ndp

Pros:

  • Against C-51: The NDP is the only party with a decent expectation of forming government that not only voted against Bill C-51, Harper’s so-called anti-terrorism legislation, but promises to repeal it if elected.
  • MMIW Inquiry: NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has promised an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women on the first 100 days in office.
  • No Community Mailboxes: The NDP has promised to reverse Canada Post’s decision to end door-to-door mail delivery and replace it with community mailboxes.

Cons:

  • Energy East: The federal NDP doesn’t have a clear policy on the proposed trans-national pipeline project. In fact, Alberta NDP leader and premier Rachel Notley is actively campaigning for it.
  • Gaza: It took the party’s grassroots occupying MP offices to get Mulcair to offer a balanced approach to Israel’s attack on Gaza last year. Also, Paul Manly was denied the chance to run for the party’s nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, BC, supposedly due to his father and former MP Jim Manly, being on the flotilla to Gaza.

The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)

cpc

Pros:

  • What You See is What You Get: If you’re happy with the last four years of federal policy, then you can expect more of the same with Harper & Co.
  • Protest Recruitment: If you think mobilization on the streets against the government is the only way to achieve social justice, then there is no better recruiting tool then Prime Minister Stephen Harper (though it may be more difficult now that C-51 is law).
  • Band on the Backburner: The silver lining of another Conservative majority is four more years of Harper only rolling out his musical chops on special occasions. He’s really terrible.

Cons:

  • What You See is What You Get: Omnibus bills, fear, second-class citizens, bromance with Bibi, Duffy, fraud, community mailboxes, muzzling scientists, muzzling charities, the list goes on
  • Nickelback

Liberal Party of Canada (LPC)

lpc

Pros:

  • 420: Trudeau supports the legalization of weed for recreational use. It worked for Colorado, why not for Canada?
  • First Nations: The Liberals also support Nation to Nation talks with indigenous populations.
  • Experience: While the CPC love to mock the Liberal leader’s lack of experience, quite a few of the candidates have considerable government experience.

Cons:

  • Voted for C-51: How can you be against something and vote for it? Also, only promised to change it, not repeal it.
  • Pipelines: The Liberals may also be unclear on Energy East, but their leader went down to Washington to pitch Keystone.

Bloc Quebecois (BQ)

bq

Pros:

  • Against Energy East: This may be a wedge issue against the NDP. The Bloc has released ads against the pipeline project and presumed Dipper support.
  • Gilles Duceppe: Although he got his political ass handed to him in 2011, Duceppe is a consumate, likeable and ultimately progressive politician.
  • Conservative Vote Splitter: Harper had hoped to make inroads in rural and suburban Quebec. Some of those right-leaning voters may also be nationalist and a viable Bloc may just make those Con inroads impossible.

Cons:

  • Electoral Math: The Bloc cannot form government, the best they can hope for is opposition.
  • Mario Beaulieu: Before Duceppe took over, the Bloc was attacking the NDP from the right, releasing xenophobic ads and pushing a Marois-esque message. Despite changing gears, the Beaulieu faction is still around.

The Green Party of Canada

green

Pros:

  • Democratic Reform: While not the only party pushing to get rid of the First-Past-The-Post system, the Greens have made it one of their core issues.
  • Against C-51: They were the first party to raise the alarm about Bill C-51.
  • Clean Energy & Green Transport: One of the main planks of their platform is investment in clean energy. Another is investment in green transport.

Cons:

  • First-Past-The-Post: The electoral system which the Greens hope to reform could be the greatest impediment to them being able to pull off any real change after this election.
  • Policies Adopted by Other Parties: Most of the best ones have been.

None of the Above

Pros:

  • Record Your Displeasure: If you really don’t like any of the options, then not voting for any of them by scratching your ballot means your displeasure will be heard. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Why vote for evil?
  • Broken Promises: Party platforms are not written in stone. Politicians break promises all the time, even major ones if they become impossible in the current system (cough, Greece, cough).
  • The State: If you are fundamentally opposed to the state and would like very much to get rid of it, it makes sense not to perpetuate it with an endorsement.

Cons:

  • The State Exists: While the Canadian state still exists, the winner of the election will be able to form its policy. By voting None of the Above, your only recourse against the one of the above that wins may be the streets.
  • C-51: With Bill C-51 now law, it’s a helluva lot easier to be labelled as a terrorist. With Bill C-24 people with dual citizenship could be deported after being labelled a terrorist for doing something as simple as protesting an injustice. With these laws on the books, taking to the streets may be considerably more difficult. For some, repealing C-51 is an “at all costs” sort of thing and None of the Above isn’t an option this time.

Last week, my colleague Niall made a very interesting observation: Harper’s Bill C-51 was designed, among other things, to attract Quebec voters who supported the Marois government’s ill-fated Charter of Quebec Values. For a few days, it seemed like that strategy just might pay off. After all, there was a poll done by Angus Reid that said 9 in 10 Quebecers supported the bill, and the current major Quebec parliamentary real estate holders, the NDP, were very much against it.

Now it looks like Harper’s Quebec roadmap may have hit two significant bumps. First, it looks like that poll wasn’t the type of broad-reaching, reliable, accurate and representative survey Angus is famous for. Instead, the 82% support nationwide approval for the bill, and the nine-in-ten Quebecer approval comes from an internal poll Angus did of members who signed up to its forum.

The second obstacle came last Thursday in the form of a backhanded endorsement of the Conservative government’s plans to appeal a court ruling permitting Muslim women to wear niquabs at citizenship hearings. The Bloc Quebecois released an ad online, depicting the House of Commons as seen through a niqab, and attacking Thomas Mulcair for coming out against Harper’s decision to appeal the ruling. It asked the question: “Do we have to hide our face to vote NDP?”

Bloc: Learning from the Wrong History

Desperate times call for dumbass measures, I guess. Since Mario Beaulieu (I seriously had to Google his name to make sure I had it right) took the reigns of the Bloc, he has made it clear that the way forward and back to relevance was through a hardline separatist approach to policy and messaging. Now, it seems like he has added xenophobia to the party platform in equal measure.

beaulieu

You can see the logic behind it: trying to be a progressive federal party with the interests of Quebec at heart didn’t cut it in 2011, and that’s why Gilles Duceppe lost in such a big way. To rebuild the Bloc, they needed a completely different approach.

If Beaulieu and company had looked, instead, to the defeat of the Parti-Quebecois in 2014, they would have realized that their new approach was the exact same mix that brought down Pauline Marois. And she was a sitting premier with considerable backing and exposure. What makes the Bloc think that they, with just two seats in the House of Commons and a general feeling of irrelevance, are in a better position to make this approach work?

It Could Have Worked for Harper

Appealing to the bigotry of some Quebecers by scapegoating the Muslim “other” is a strategy that took another Mario, the ADQ’s Dumont, all the way to Quebec Leader of the Oppositon in 2007. His party’s ambiguity on the national question along with an openly gay PQ leader (Andre Boisclair) made it easy for him to scoop up the right-wing nationalist part of the PQ’s base, leaving them with only the other half, the progressive sovereigntists, and a third-party placement. Marois appealing to the bigots produced an almost identical result.

If opposition status in Quebec is what you’re after, then xenophobia is the way to go. The problem for the Bloc is their goal isn’t that. It is (or at least it should be) to sweep most of Quebec and be the opposition, or close to it, in Ottawa.
Harper, on the other hand, isn’t looking to sweep Quebec. He just needs to bring out enough of the people who supported the Charter and get them to vote Conservative. For him, a Quebec roadmap that leads to opposition status in the province is perfect, as it may help him secure a second majority overall.

Now, though, it looks like the Bloc may be throwing a spike into those plans. No matter what side of the political spectrum they find themselves on, Quebecers generally don’t like Harper. If he pushes the right xenophobic buttons, though, some may hold their collective noses and vote for him. The Bloc is giving them a way out.

By effectively competing for and possibly splitting the hard-right xenophobic vote in Quebec, they may be helping out the NDP and Liberals in ways they hadn’t planned to. Planning, though, doesn’t seem to be the Bloc’s strong suit these days.

The Sad Truth

While my instinct might be to laugh and cheer, it’s actually really sad. Regardless of what you think of a separatist party running federally in Canada, the Bloc, at least under Gilles Duceppe, was a party that wanted to be on the right side of history.

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I liked Duceppe as a leader and always enjoyed his role in English debates. He didn’t care, so he said what he felt. He was willing to form a coalition with the NDP and the Liberals, when it was the right thing to do. He stood up against Harper’s more damaging ideas.

I’m not saying I would have voted for him, in fact I once lived in his riding and was very proud that my vote was against him, which seemed like a wasted ballot at the time, helped unseat him during the Orange Wave. But at least he had integrity and stood up for progressive ideals, when they didn’t conflict with his ultimate gameplan, that is.

Now, that Bloc is dead. The Bloc of ex-Mulroney MPs that Lucien Bouchard started is dead, too. While Bouchard’s Bloc was economically conservative, at least they weren’t Harperite right-wing reactionaries. What we’re left with is an ultra-nationalist version of the ADQ operating at the federal level. It’s a joke, sure, but it’s also a sad end to a party that did have a purpose.

If blocking Harper (pun unavoidable) from gaining any type of tangible foohold in Quebec is their legacy, so be it. It’s just a rather undignified end for a party that once stood for something other than the lowest common denominator of bigots in Quebec.

In their latest and possibly final attempt at relevance, the Bloc just killed its soul.

It that time of year again, folks! That time of year when lazy scribes get busy putting together their top stories of the year for their retrospective end-of-year piece. In this case, it’s the stories, people, laws, scandals, senatorial or otherwise (with the retirement of former Conservative Minister Vic “Vickie-Leaks” Toews, sex scandals are in short supply, sadly!), that made the corridors of power in O-Town buzz and the publicists, spin-doctors and high-paid hacks that now run our political system wring their proverbial hands with worry!

2013 is destined to be remembered for arguably the biggest crisis that the Harper government has experienced since it came to power back in ’06. Prior to revelations involving the expense fraud of Duff Man, the Brazman, Pammy “The Honourable Senator for Manhattan” Wallin and Mac “Seal hugger” Harb, Harper and his government had managed to avoid many of the fiscal and criminal scandals that recent federal governments invariably suffer during their mandate (i.e. Airbus, Sponsorship, etc.). Though, for those of us paying attention, there were others that set off alarm bells, including the In-Out election spending scheme of the 2006 and the robocall voter suppression scandal of the last elections, to mention a couple.

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But with the growing problem of an inexplicably absent Prime Minister at the heart of a major criminal investigation into the actions of his inner circle of advisors and hatchet men (i.e. Nigel Wright) by the men in red, Harper appears to be bearing the brunt of the public outrage over this mess. Make no mistake, the federal Tories and their previously Teflon leader are in way over their heads this time and will wear this one into the 2015 elections and possibly beyond.

In a related story, Tom Mulcair, the leader of the Federal NDP, established himself as the king of Question Period with his brilliant prosecutorial style and his blunt line of questioning on the connections between the Prime Minister’s Office and the cover-up of Senator Duffy’s illegal transaction with Nigel Wright. It has been noted by many a cynic in the media and elsewhere that such performances do not score many points with the general public who usually tune out the House of Commons.

It remains to be seen whether this will translate into greater support for the NDP in the next election. But, if nothing else, this has distinguished him very nicely from Justin Trudeau who has been lagging behind his main rival on challenging the government in the House, preferring to concentrate on the kind of retail politics outside the Ottawa bubble that are rapidly becoming his trademark.

Speaking of the current golden boy of Canadian politics (these things typically don’t last, if you don’t believe me look at the sorry state of Gerard Kennedy’s career), you’ve got to admit that Trudeau’s mojo has been growing ever since he crushed his opponents in the farcical Liberal leadership race back in April. He stumped for his candidates in recent by-elections and the results indicated that the Trudeau effect has helped the Liberals gain some inroads in Brandon-Souris (Manitoba) and retain their current number of seats by fending off strong campaigns by the NDP in Bourassa and Toronto-Centre (and then promptly rubbing their noses in it, in very classy fashion). If the current favourable polling trends continue, expect Trudeau Junior to go from strength to strength in the next couple of years, leading up to the general election in 2015.

freeland mcquaig buttons

Remember the Bloc? The separatist party that dominated Quebec Federal politics since 1993. Well, in case you didn’t notice, they’re in a severe tailspin with zero hope of recovery at the moment. At the risk of dancing on the grave of the still barely alive political party, the death of the party in the next election (if not sooner) is now inevitable.

They lost Maria Mourani, one of a rump caucus that used to count  48 Members, over their decision to back Pauline Marois and the Quebec government’s ever controversial Quebec Values Charter. They registered a pitiful 13% of the vote in Bourassa, and just last week came the coup de grâce: their leader, Daniel Paillé, resigned suddenly for health reasons (not that many noticed), seemingly without any credible replacement lined up.

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No end of the year list would be complete without a nod to the Fordzilla fiasco in Toronto. The monster that is reportedly running amok in a crack and alcohol fueled rage at Nathan Phillips square downtown, is devouring everything in his path. He appears to be headed for Ottawa next, where he is expected to do even more damage to the Conservative spin-doctor frankensteins that helped unleash this twisted creature on and unsuspecting public in 2007 and defended him until it became apparent he was becoming a major political liability.

Here’s hoping that next year’s federal political stories, be they good, bad or ugly, keep us all half as enthralled, as this year’s did. Amen!