When pigs fly; or, Thoughts on the Quebec by-elections

September 17, 2007 § 2 Comments

For the second time in my life, I have helped to elect the New Democratic Party to political office.  The first time was in 1990, an event I fondly recall here.  The second was tonight, when the Liberal bastion of Outremont fell soundly to NDP candidate Thomas Mulcair.

Though pleased, I’m far from elated.  I am not a fan of the “new” New Democratic Party, and certainly not of Mulcair, who was until very recently a Quebec Liberal.  Call me cynical, but I don’t trust politicians who party-hop, a strategy that has become common in Canadian politics in recent years and which reeks of opportunism.  More to the point, I dread the day when I will have to listen to Jack Layton participate in another televised debate, and I am certain that tonight’s victory will make him just that much more annoying. 

Having said this, it’s well past time that the Liberals were ousted from Outremont, a seat they have lost once since 1921.  Think about it: there are countries that have full-scale revolutions more frequently than that.  Also, much better the NDP than the Conservatives, who are staging a comeback in other parts of the province and who won one of three by-elections tonight.  Trust me, a conservative Quebec is not a pretty sight.  See?

In and of itself, I doubt that today’s election is all that significant, but it does reflect the continuing polarization of the Quebec electorate.  In the absence of language politics as a unifying force, the province is veering in radically different directions, which sometimes correspond to “left” and “right,” at others to “city” and “region,” and most often to “cranky” and “apathetic.”  With an economic downturn looming, it’ll be interesting to see where the cards fall in the next round of elections.  A word to the wise: they’re coming sooner than you think.

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