From the TO Sun, an abbreviated Sheila Copps:
A wrinkle may just have been thrown into Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spring election scenario.
A perfect storm -- which would sweep the Conservatives into majority territory -- is predicated on a resounding Liberal victory in the Quebec election.
Storm clouds gathering in Quebec this week test the certainty of that scenario.
Nipping at the heels of the Grits and the Parti Quebecois is a resurgent effort by Quebec's most conservative party, the Action Democratique (ADQ).
Early on, the provincial Liberals (and the federal Tories) were not concerned about the rise in ADQ support.
They were convinced any movement would take votes from their real adversary, the Parti Quebecois.
Now, Dumont is pulling from the Liberal voting pool, setting the stage for a potential minority.
The Folks at Political Staples are wondering why a Charest minority would count as a loss for Harper. Greg Staples says:
The thing I am confused about is why this is a problem for the CPC. A Quebec minority government, with the ADQ holding the balance of power, poses no risk of a referendum. Further it moves the Quebec government further to the centre/centre-right where the CPC is trying plant their flag. Finally the CPC is aligned with both the Liberals and ADQ and both parties workers can help the Conservatives in a federal election and any rise in ADQ fortunes would come from the same Quebec City area where the Conservatives are able to make gains.
From the point of view of the governance of the province of Quebec (and its effect on the ROC) a Charest minority would certainly be an acceptable result. But remember Harper and Charest arranged this election to give the CPoC a leg up on a Spring Federal vote. A Charest minority means a morning after headline something like:
HARPER ABANDONS CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES AND SPENDS LIKE DRUNKEN SAILER: QUEBEC ALLY CHAREST STILL LOSES MAJORITY!!!!
Note that the phrase "loses majority" contains the word "lose".
Secondly, how do we know it will wind up to be a Charest majority? If all three major parties poll around 30% on election, the PQ might quite possibly grab the most seats and therefore head the resultant government.
As a final note, the folks at Political Staples note this line from Sheila's piece:
Harper's best-case scenario involves a popular federal budget, healing wounds in Ontario and Quebec, and providing the reason for a Charest win and a Harper bounce into election fever.
...and interpret it to mean that Harper will help finance "McAsswipe's" re-election bid here in Ontario. Does this mean Ontario will get a few billion funneled our way? Oh at long last, to get our turn at the trough!