Tuesday, March 27, 2007

ADQ becomes official opposition in Quebec

Given that the ADQ has quite a few right wing policies I wonder if this will increase Harper's position federally in Quebec? There seems to be a reaction to immigration in Quebec especially in rural areas. You would think the reaction would be stronger in urban areas where the immigrants settle. It seems that prejudice can be even worse against those that people do not have any experience at all with. I remember a sociologist friend at Brandon did a survey in his class on feelings towards different groups. The strongest prejudice was not against aboriginals as I had thought might be the case but against Turks. Most of these students have probably never encountered a Turk in their whole life!

ADQ becomes Quebec's Official Opposition
Last Updated: Monday, March 26, 2007 | 8:42 PM ET
CBC News
The Action Démocratique du Québec captured 41 seats in Quebec's national assembly, and with them the title of Official Opposition in the new minority Liberal government.

Action Démocratique du Québec Leader Mario Dumont speaks to supporters at election night headquarters Monday.
(Clement Allard/Canadian Press) "This election campaign makes it official — we are a new voice, and this will allow us to shine both here and throughout the world," ADQ Leader Mario Dumont told supporters at his party headquarters in Rivière-du-Loup on Monday night.

The victory marked a coming of age for the party, which held five seats in the last session and needed only 12 to gain official party this time around.

Dumont said the results were "a very strong political message — a message of change.” Specifically, the ADQ's success signals a political shift to the right in Quebec.

The ADQ successfully tapped into latent conservatism in Quebec's francophone heartland with promises of:

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A one per cent reduction in government spending.
An increase in private health-care delivery.
A reduction in the number of Quebecers on welfare.
Dumont, a 36-year-old married father of three, also emphasized family policies such as a child-care tax credit.

The ADQ's strong success also suggests Quebecers are tired of fighting every election on the issues of sovereignty.

Although Dumont supported sovereignty during the 1995 referendum campaign, he backed away from that position during this year's election campaign.

Instead, he said he supported an autonomous Quebec within Canada, and indicated he would not support any post-election bid for another sovereignty referendum by the Parti Québécois.

The ADQ, its leader and its right-of centre platform became a main target for both Liberal and PQ attacks after polls showed the ADQ was poised to snatch many more provincial legislature seats in 2007 than in 2003, and had become the favourite among francophone voters.

Bumps on campaign road
But the campaign was not always smooth for Dumont.

He was attacked for his position on Quebec sovereignty, which was interpreted differently by Liberal Leader Jean Charest and PQ Leader André Boisclair.

Charest warned voters that the ADQ was a "waiting room" for sovereigntists.

In contrast, Boisclair originally lumped Dumont’s sovereignty position in with Charest’s and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s. But near the end of the campaign, he suggested Dumont might support a PQ bid for another sovereignity referendum — something that Dumont himself denied.

Dumont criticized for platform
Dumont was also attacked by his opponents for not revealing the financial details of his $1.7-billion platform until after the release of last week's federal budget, and was later accused of being unrealistic about how much the platform would cost.

In addition, the ADQ leader faced trouble from within his own party — he was forced to drop two candidates and rebuke a third for their controversial remarks about minorities and events recognizing violence against women.

In the latter part of the campaign, polls found that the number of respondents who thought Dumont would make the best premier slipped, causing some commentators to speculate that the party had peaked too early to maximize its success at the ballot box.

Come a long way
In the end, that speculation appeared unfounded. The 2007 election results show the ADQ and its leader have come a long way since Dumont co-founded the party with former Liberal Jean Allaire in 1994.

Dumont took the Rivière-du-Loup riding in 1994 to become the first ADQ member in the legislature.

He was re-elected as the sole ADQ representative in 1998, but the party won four more seats in subsequent byelections.

The ADQ took four seats in 2003 with 18 per cent of the popular vote and later won a fifth seat in the Vanier riding during a byelection in September 2004.

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