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)
They 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)
Stephen 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)
Remember 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)
The 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)
For 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.
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):
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:
Did Duceppe just argue in favour of keeping the constitution the way it is? Wonder what Rene Levesque would think? #elxn42#debatdeschefs
Duceppe has one more shot, the TVA debate on October 2nd, to save his party from obscurity.
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:
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.
By contrast, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau came across as natural. He looked good on camera and really tried to play to the crowd:
Trudeau name drops like a pro wrestler: theDearfoot when in Calgary and now Rona and Pharmaprix when in Quebec #elxn42#combatdeschefs
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…
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.
Harper’s 24 Hour Surveillance
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.