Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Les amis d'Harper

On the surface, things are looking great for Harper in Quebec. "Led" by their new chief, the federal Liberals are retreating to Montreal. The Prime Minister's personal popularity is rising, and his party is quickly emerging as the voice of Quebec federalists in Ottawa. Provincially, the Liberals and ADQ -- #1 and #2 in the polls heading into this month's election -- are clamoring to convince voters who is Harper's best friend: Charest or Dumont. Things couldn't be better, right? Hang on...

To his credit, Harper has done well to stear clear of personal involvement in the Quebec election. He hasn't picked sides, apart from opposing the PQ on principle and appearing in a photo-op with Charest just prior to the campaign. As for choosing between the PLQ and the ADQ, however, the PM has remained neutral. Let's hope it doesn't come back to hurt him.

Building alliances with Charest should be of little concern to most red tories. Sure, he's fiscally conservative, but his tight-fistedness is tempered by the left-leaning Quebec political culture. (His early attempts at tax relief and program cuts fell flat, and he's since retreated from his plan of fiscal restraint.) All in all, Charest's last budget and his handling of social issues (like healthcare, immigration, religion, education and tolerance) and the constitutional file are a real model for red tory governance. Plus, with the ADQ outflanking the Liberals on the right, all signs point to a more centrist PLQ in the future. (Left-wing soft nationalists may be looking for a viable party to support, with the decline of the PQ.)

Conservatives should be more concerned with the Mario factor. Try as he might (and I'm not convinced he is trying) the ADQ leader just can't seem to keep social conservatives (read: outright biggots) from popping up in his ranks. Their anti-ethnic and homophobic comments -- as candidates and sympathisers -- are a throwback to the Union Nationale days. (The party is cultivating its support in many of the same rural regions as Duplessis did.) Equally concerning, the ADQ's soft stance on federalism leaves a lot of room for a drift toward brinksmanship-politics with Ottawa. Dumont's personal involvement with the 'oui' campaign in 1995 has been written off as political opportunism, but it's no less disquieting.

As the ADQ continues to surge, Conservatives ought to be cautious about their association with a volatile party with biggoted and sovereigntist tendencies. The PM has done well to avoid photo-ops with Dumont (which, in a decade's time, could be akin to the pictures of Mulroney and Bouchard arm-in-arm). He might do a better job of discounting Mario's claims that he is part of the Harper team, or at least offering advice to Dumont about how to keep the radicals under wraps. Who better to offer such guidance?


Shannon said...

Eid I hear somewhare that Dion said last week that he wants Quebecers to vote for the Green Party or the ADQ instead of the Charest Liberals because of their too cozy relationship with Harper.

One would think the Federal Liberal leader would be supportive of the Provincial Liberals - but, I guess Federal Liberal hate and jealously gets in the way here too.

Anonymous said...

Did you actually write this??

"Try as he might (and I'm not convinced he is trying) the ADQ leader just can't seem to keep social conservatives (read: outright biggots) from popping up in his ranks."

I got a question for you: how can somebody be a DEEP RED TORY? I say it is incompatible with the existing CPC.

Matt said...


"Try as he might (and I'm not convinced he is trying) the ADQ leader just can't seem to keep social conservatives (read: outright biggots) from popping up in his ranks."

I sure hope you aren't calling social conservatives "outright bigots"? Would you care to elaborate or reexplain what you meant if my interpretation is incorrect?

Shannon: Unlike most provincial Liberal parties, the Quebec Liberals don't have any ties with the federal Liberal Party.

DeepRedTory said...

Shannon: You're right: Dion has no friends in Quebec (except Justin Trudeau). Plans to endorse the ADQ and Greens are just plain crazy, for a lot of reasons. He'll be splitting eco-votes with the Greens and NDP across the country in the next election, so perhaps he's warming up.

Anonymous: Say what you will about the image of the Harper Conservatives. As an old-PC'er, I was a skeptical about the merger. But Harper's surprising me with his ability to keep radical social conservatism out of the party's (official) policy. Mind you, power does allow a leader to drift to the centre.

Matt: Absolutely, I'll clarify. My post was poorly worded. Not all social conservatives are biggots. The ones speaking up in the ADQ campaign are, particularly with their comments on immigration. It's reminiscent of Alliance and Reform campaigns, no? Respectable so-cons being tarnished by the most outlandish in their midst. Sorry if I contributed to the stereotype.

Matt said...

Thanks for clarifying. I would like to add that bigotry and racism are probably prevalent in all provincial and federal parties to approximately the same percentage, and anyone saying different is just fooling themselves.

For the record, I count myself among the respectable so-cons ;)

DeepRedTory said...

Matt: Amen to that (pun intended). Tree-huggers, hippies, feminists on the left; biggots, racists, nazis on the right. Red tories persecuted in the middle. My real commentary was on Harper's ability to aggregate the various interests in his party, versus Dumont's lack of ability in that regard. All party leaders could learn a thing or two from the Prime Minister (although, again, power is the best adhesive).

Matt said...

"Tree-huggers, hippies, feminists on the left; biggots, racists, nazis on the right. Red tories persecuted in the middle."

I'm not so sure you understood me. While I disagree ideologically with feminists etc., bigots and racists are equally prevalent among political parties regardless of where they sit on the spectrum - left, centre, or right.

For example, the ethno-politics at the Liberal convention in December, where delegates were told by some not to vote for Bob Rae because his wife is Jewish. Someone even said this to his wife's face, and when she identified herself, the coward ran away! I have never heard of this taking place within any other party.

Within the NDP, this week we saw hardcore supporter Racist Robbie (a socialist) be denounced by the president of the party for saying he wouldn't even call it a "shame" if the state rounded up his Jewish neighbours. Does that not sound nazi like to you?

Then we can look at BQ and PQ supporters who detest anything and everything English. As far as their concerned, English people should be marched right back into Ontario.

Every political party has the same percentage of bigots, be it 2% of supporters or 20% of supporters. I find it very disheartening that someone who passes themselves as a supporter of the CPC would seem to suggest that intolerance is exclusively found on the right, and equate that with treehuggers on the left.

DeepRedTory said...

Bastards all. Biggots, biggots all around. Point to you. (You might also mention that the KKK was a key component of Saskatchewan Tory support in the early 20th Century, or that the Manitoba NDP was accused of running anti-Semitic campaigns against Jewish candidates during the 1970s.)

But my argument still stands: some party leaders are better at hiding them than others. Some face tougher challenges and biases, particularly those on the Right. My point is: Harper's got the power and talent to overcome these obstacles. And he's done a great job. Dumont hasn't.

As for whether I am worthy of the label "supporter of the CPC"... I didn't realize that uncritical faith in the Right was a prerequisite. If so, I'm the one who's "disheartened".

When someone is critical of conservatism -- more particularly, the radical elements of conservatism -- it shouldn't be considered blasphemous and anti-CPC. It's anti-intolerance, not un-Conservative.

Being an effective conservative means more than simply criticizing other groups. It means examining our own movement. If that means criticizing a leader like Dumont for failing to keep the most ignorant adequistes from showing up in the media, so be it. If that means implying that radical (i.e., non-"respectable") so-cons have no business passing themselves off as friends of the Harper government, so be it. If that means being one of the only blogs on BT to argue this, so be it. I'm certainly not going to apologize for that.

As for who's more dangerous -- left-wing extremists or right-wing radicals -- we ought to be able to come up with a good joke here, no? (A hippie and a fascist walk into a Liberal Party convention....) ;)

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