Monday, October 31, 2005

Spinning Gomery

The Liberal spin machine is out in full force in anticipation of the release of the first Gomery report this Tuesday. The conventional wisdom is that the report will be very damaging to the Liberal Party. Whatever Gomery may conclude about Paul Martin’s involvement in the AdScam scandal, Liberal operatives have been clearly implicated in a systematic kickback scheme for the benefit of the Liberal Party, as well as perhaps for themselves.

But let’s not let facts get in the way. Former Liberal strategist John Parisella seems to think that it is federalists in Quebec that will be hurt by Gomery’s conclusions (look for link here), as if Canadian federalism were the exclusive domain of the Liberal Party.

Granted, given the political dynamic in Quebec, the Liberal Party has been the federalist standard bearer in the province for the last dozen years. For most federalist-leaning Quebecers, there seemed little point in splitting the vote with other federalist parties if it meant they would otherwise be represented by the separatist Bloc Québécois.

However, that does not mean there are not other federalist options, only that, it was the Liberals who looked like they had the best shot at taking seats from the separatists ever since Kim Campbell led the post-Mulroney Conservatives to oblivion in 1993. The conclusions of Gomery report will undoubtedly lead to second thoughts among many Quebecers about ever voting Liberal again.

With the Bloc Québécois at 61% support, well ahead of support for sovereignty at just over half, a significant chunk of the federalist protest vote is without a home. Quebecers have not necessarily given up on federalism. But they have given up on the Liberal Party. Consequently, there is a tremendous opportunity for the CPC to tap into this discontent. Nonetheless, without a strong, grass roots organization, it will not be easy.  However, getting the tide to turn in Quebec will be the key to attaining a CPC majority in the future.