With Stephane Dion as Louis XV
The theme song for last week's by-election massacre in Quebec was a funeral dirge for the Liberal Party in its preferred perception as Canada's 'Natural Governing Party' and as the 'Party of National Unity'.
For at least a generation the LPOC depended on dividing Canada into a collection of opposing interests; only really paying any attention to the "vote rich" heartlands of Ontario and Quebec, while largely ignoring the east and west. The Liberals ran Canada by setting up regions as adversarial voting blocs.
The basic conflict in Central Canada has been a manufactured one, between French and English, instilling in Canadians a fear that the country would 'fall apart' like some smashed dinner plate.
The Liberals established in the minds of the ROC that Quebec is a violent, irrational and angry place that would prefer its independence over national collaboration. Then they played Ontario as the village idiot by convincing its residents that the only means of preventing national destruction was for Ontario to financially and politically capitulate to Quebec's demands.
In Ontario, the Liberals divided its population further into adversarial groups; multi-cultural policy divided immigrant groups into voting blocs. A dependent and frightened immigrant population voted Liberal and so did the urban small l liberals who bought into the vision of Canada being a campfire with people of all nations singing kumbaya.
But the by-elections of a week ago proved that Quebecers aren't at all convinced that the Liberal Party can offer them any value. Indeed, the results illustrated that in both urban and rural Quebec the once all powerful Liberal Party of Canada may not occupy any positive mindspace at all. In two of the three ridings the candidates didn't get their deposits returned and the hand picked Dion candidate in the Liberal homebase of Outremont was demolished.
The Liberals managed to maintain power for so long by use of 'divide and bribe'. No policies. No agenda for Canada. No role for Quebec except as hungry unstable children that must be fed.
Now - Quebec has moved out of that engendered dependency on the federal government and the Liberal fear mongering of imminent separation. After all, the 1995 referendum was really not about separation but about Quebec's maturation and escape from dependency. It was not a tribal act, but one in support of "provincial rights".
The sponsorship money laundering in the last years of King Jean was a symbol that the Liberal party was no longer needed in Quebec; the Party expected to have to buy votes with cash. Quebec and its rejection of the PQ and Bloc, its movement to self-responsibility with the new support for the ADQ, is symbolic of that change.
Quebec voters are now switching away from the Liberal brand and are freed up to vote as they wish. For now (if not the foreseeable future) Liberals in Quebec will actually have to work for their votes.
Blogs have done a good job of covering the movement of the Quebecois away from the fear-mongering, co-dependency of the Liberals and the Bloc. However, not much has been said about how that will impact the Ontario voter who will no longer feel they have to vote Liberal to maintain their stake in a unified Federation.
Harper will gain Ontario votes on that new dynamic. It is safe for Ontarians to free up their votes for that which makes most sense for them, not for that which is perceived to support national unity.
Meanwhile, John Tory has come out with an “inclusive” policy on faith based schools. Many new Canadians who are people of faith, but who had viewed Liberals as their sponsor-for-life, are now seeing that the fair mindedness of Conservatives appeals to them.
Many new Canadians have always been conservative; but they are just now realizing that Conservative is what they are.
The old myths that the Liberals enjoyed were essentially based on selling fear and emphasizing our weaknesses as a people. But now those dynamics are slipping away. Now the Liberals are feeling naked. Citoyen Dion will end up on the faculty of the Sorbonne and Dalton is discovering that his hypocrisy on a number of fear-mongering fronts no longer fit with the changing demographics of the Province.
There are now open skies in Central Canada on the electoral horizon.