Observations on Canada 

Observations on Canada

I have a student who has actually thought about Canadian politics.

He seems to be suggesting that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is doing better, and the Liberals are doing worse, than many people think.

Winning 10 seats in Quebec really was a breakthrough for Harper--who speaks French, but has otherwise had little to do with the province. He made some specific commitments about changing Quebec's role, even more than the provincial role in general, within Canada; Quebeckers believed him. Liberals, according to my student, simply have no explanation for this phenomenon. They think if they articulate left-wing values, they will win votes in Quebec as they do in Toronto. But Quebeckers care more about their identity than they do about left wing vs. right wing values; and Liberals have been taught, above all by Trudeau, to tune all that out.

Anyone would say the Liberals could have a tough time out West. Add this to Quebec, and you'd think they would look outside Toronto for a leader. Instead the front-runners for the leadership are all from Toronto, and all share the "Trudeau but somewhat leftwing" perspective. This will win a lot of seats: in Toronto, and to some extent in the other biggest cities. It is Harper, however, who seems to be gaining--winning seats where noone expected him to.

My note of skepticism would be that Bob Rae might be able to make inroads in Quebec--he probably has talked about Quebec identity, and as I recall he was all for the Charlottetown Accord--a dog's breakfast, but partly an honest attempt to satisfy Quebec's aspirations.

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