Tag Archives: rae

What effect will the Québec election have on Canadian federal politics?

With all eyes on Québec’s election next Tuesday, federal Canadian politics has somewhat been on the backburner for the past month.

But what are the consequences of the election in Canada’s second most-populous province for federal Canadian politics?

By and large, federal politics is highly segregated from provincial politics.  While there’s some overlap, provincial parties do not necessarily line up with national parties (for example, in Alberta, both the Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party are considered ‘conservative’ by federal standards and both parties attracted support from the federal Conservative Party in Alberta’s provincial election in April 2012).  That’s especially true in francophone Québec — the province has greater autonomy than most provinces, historically leans more leftist than the rest of Canada, and features its own separate federalist / sovereigntist political axis that is unique to Québec.

Nonetheless, a possible win by either of the three major parties — a fourth-consecutive term for premier Jean Charest and his Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ), Pauline Marois and the sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ) or former PQ minister François Legault’s newly-formed Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ). — could affect federal Canadian politics in subtle ways.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party

There’s little downside for the federal Conservatives in any case, especially considering that Harper hasn’t devoted time or effort to backing anyone in the Québec race.

Charest, of course, once served as the leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party in the 1990s before moving to provincial politics — the Progressive Conservatives ultimately merged with Harper’s Western-based Canadian Alliance in 2003 to become the Conservative Party.  Although Charest has been a staunch federalist in nearly a decade of leading Québec’s government, he hasn’t always had the best relationship with Harper (pictured above, left, with Charest).  That’s partly due to the tension between a provincial premier and a federal prime minister, but Harper, in particular, is still thought to feel somewhat burned after intervening on behalf of Charest in the final days of the 2007 Québec election.

Harper provided $2 million in additional federal transfers to Québec that may well have helped premier Jean Charest narrowly win that election — Charest proceeded to use the funds to pass $700 million in tax cuts instead of for extra services, causing Harper problems with his allies in other provinces.   Continue reading What effect will the Québec election have on Canadian federal politics?

Rae won’t seek Liberal leadership in Canada

Bob Rae, the interim leader of the beleaguered Liberal Party in Canada and one-time premier of Ontario, will not seek the Liberal Party’s leadership.

It is an unexpected announcement — Rae had received better marks for his performance as interim leader than his predecessors Michael Ignatieff (who defeated Rae in 2009 for the leadership) and Stéphane Dion (who defeated Rae in 2006), and was seen to be the frontrunner in the race.

Attention has already shifted to Justin Trudeau, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the party’s most popular potential leader.

The 40-year-old Trudeau has represented Papineau, a Montreal district, since 2008.  Trudeau had previously ruled out a run at the leadership, but pressure is already mounting on Trudeau as the last hope for the once-great party of Canada’s center-left — and he is already ‘listening’ to that pressure in the wake of Rae’s decision.

Even as the party gears up for the leadership contest expected in early 2013, polls show the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party currently tied for the lead in national polls, with the Liberals still trailing far behind — ThreeHundredEight‘s May 2012 federal poll average showed the NDP with 35%, the Tories with 34% and the Liberals with just 19%.

Rae’s strong performance since 2011 as interim leader had made him a frontrunner alongside Trudeau for the permanent leadership.  Indeed, he’s seen as a stronger adversary for Harper than even the official opposition leader — Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair, who was elected as the NDP’s new leader only in March 2012.

But a full-fledged Rae leadership candidacy would have been problematic on several levels:

  • In stepping down as interim leader to run in his own right, Rae would have destabilized the Liberals in Parliament at a time when the party can least afford it, with Mulcair now consolidating his position as opposition leader.
  • His interim leadership has not done anything to help the Liberals’ poll numbers, which remain as low as the party’s depressed support in the 2011 general election.
  • It is unclear that Rae, a twice-failed leadership candidate in his mid-60s, would be able to lead the party through the two or three election cycles that it is likely to take for the party to move up from 34 seats to Official Opposition and then back into government.
  • A leadership campaign would have undoubtedly dredged up his controversial record as the NDP premier of Ontario in the 1990s (he failed to win reelection in 1995), and it would also have subjected him to suspicions that he’s keen on engineering a merger with the NDP (which, for what it’s worth, might not be the worst idea for the Liberal Party).

All things considered, his decision seems sound, and it allows Rae to play the elder statesman in the near future as a new generation of Liberals emerge — a generation that seems to begin and end with Trudeau, but includes nearly a dozen of potential leaders: Continue reading Rae won’t seek Liberal leadership in Canada

Mulcair emerges as NDP leader

Thomas Mulcair won the leadership of the New Democratic Party Saturday night — giving Canada an Opposition Leader for really the first time since the 2011 general election. 

That general election, you may or may not know, scrambled Canadian federal politics, not so much by giving the Conservative Party, so resurgent under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and so much closer to the American right than the British right in its back-from-the-dead revival, an outright parliamentary majority, but rather in reducing the long-standing Liberal Party to just 34 of the 308 seats in Canada’s Parliament and becoming the Official Opposition on the back of a popularity wave that started, of all places, in Quebec.  Continue reading Mulcair emerges as NDP leader