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It rather confirms the obvious in that the fundamental political strategy question in Ottawa is how to get the Bloc off the stage. In short, for either the Conservatives or the Liberals to have a chance of getting a majority, the Bloc needs to be destroyed and erased from the Commons.

When you have competitive two-party politics in every riding in English Canada and Quebec votes in a 45+ member strong provincial rump, the only result is minority parliaments.

"In short, for either the Conservatives or the Liberals to have a chance of getting a majority, the Bloc needs to be destroyed and erased from the Commons."

I suspect you're right. I really should run the numbers for the Conservatives, to see if they fare any better.

The Liberals will never return to a majority, I think only the tories under Harper or Bernier, can win a majority.

The thing about voters is that the Liberal vote tends to be radical centrists, and strong fiscal conservatives who oppose the theological-wing of the tories, despite there being virtually no theological-wing left in the caucus. If the NDP and Liberals were to merge, most of the soft votes would end up going to the Tories, not to forget the prospect of NDP policies. For vote counts, in most riding throughout Ontario and many Quebec wings, the tories would be far more popular than the Liberals, keeping in mind that about 60 seats in Ontario alone, were only won by 0.1 to 3% vote count.

In Quebec, I agree that the Bloc is a pain, but the tories are the only party that can eliminate the Bloc. If Harper began engaging in decentralization/ privatization/deregulation, he could sweep Quebec, or triple his numbers. The tories like the market(in theory), under the minority their wacko. By embracing deregulation and privatization of government services, they could add a clause in legislation to permit provincials government to rule in the newly deregulated federal jurisdiction, which the Bloc would be greatly favorable to. It would end up fueling the satisfaction to permitting Quebec to follow its nation and the other provinces such as Alberta or BC, who would like more autonomy and an end to central Canada's dominance.

Privatize what, pray tell? Most of the saleable Crown Corporations have already been sold. We deregulated much of what could be deregulated.

If you'd like to privatize health care, count me out. Besides, I have worked in the insurance industry. The open secret is that they can't and won't provide universal health insurance with any profit. It's slowly slipping into government hands and the industry couldn't care less. They prefer snootier lines like Disability and Long-Term Care. Critical Illness if they must.

Harper is now on the way to implementing a national securities regulator. Quebec isn't onside but it will be good for Quebec. It will be good for all provinces.

A health-care privatization policy would be the death of any party that supported it in English Canada.

@Determinant:

How would the creation of a Toronto-based federal securities regulator and a transfer of 1,000 financial sector jobs from Montreal to Toronto "good for Quebec"? Seriously, the boys on Bay Street and their go-to guy in Ottawa are not fooling anyone on rue Saint-Jacques.

Claude: are there 1000 regulators in Montreal?

Also, even if there is a single regulator headquartered in Toronto, I'd imagine there would be field offices in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

"The Liberals will never return to a majority, I think only the tories under Harper or Bernier, can win a majority."

Never is a long time.

Bernier would be a tough slog in Ontario, much less Alberta.

@Andrew F.

No, there are less than 1,000 regulators in Montreal. But the AMF brings other profesionnals, lawyers, accountants, etc. The figure is not mine, it comes from a study by Groupe SECOR<>/a, released 2 weeks ago.

And please, replacing the AMF by some broom closet in a strip mall is insulting and it won't entice Quebec to join in yet another federal power grab.

@ ClaudeB:

A number of Quebec companies, foremost among them the National Bank and Power Financial will benefit from a single national securities regime. Plus every Quebec company that wants to raise capital. Not to mention our international reputation.

The rent-seeking ability of 1000 accountants and lawyers is outweighed by the enhanced access to capital and more efficient markets that a national regulator would create.

Yes, I imagine there would be a field office in most provinces, certainly in Montreal. Maybe not PEI, but we'll see.

The Montreal Exchange merged with the TSX. This is just the next logical step.

Plus this isn't a federal power grab. It's righting a horrible and wrong interpretation of the Constitution imposed by the Wicked Stepfathers of Confederation, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Of course, the alternative political strategy for the Liberals is to split the Tories. Harper is no Tory in the mould of Clark or Mulroney; instead the current Conservative party tries to bridge from Canada's neo-cons and tea-party wannabes to "something that can also look multicultural and comfortable in a gay pride parade in Toronto." That is a tough act to manage and a hard party to keep together.

One thing that is often not realized is in fact the Western Social Credit/Reform/Alliance wing of Conservative politics has split up and remerged with Progressive Conservatives three times already in the course of Canadian history. First in 1935 Social Credit emerged with both a Western Populist base and Quebec Nationalist base of 17 seats against Calgary based RB Bennett's Conservatives. Then both sides came back together in the 1950s under the leadership of John Diefenbaker only to split apart shortly after the defeat of the Diefenbaker govt.

By the late 1960 the two most important Social Credit leaders at the time Ernest Manning and WAC Bennett decided the really didn't like Crediste Real Coullette who wanted to become leader of the national Social Credit Party. Manning and Bennett also saw the rise of Trudeaumania and decided unite their Social Credit forces back behind Robert Stanfield's Progressive Conservatives. In the mean time both Alberta and BC moved away from tea-party populism under Peter Lougheed and Bill Bennett Jr something more akin to Bill Davis's loyalist Toryism.

Of course everyone knows by now the story of Brian Mulroney and the start of the Reform Party. However post 1993 one story that is not often reported is that the Federal Conservatives/Reform/Alliance have been used quite often as a dumping ground by the likes of the BC Liberals and Gordon Campbell and the Stelmach/Klein Alberta PC's to get rid of neocon teabagger types the don't want hanging around provincial politics. Thus Alberta and BC at the provincial level don't seem any more conservative than say Ontario at the provincial level despite being hard right at the federal.

Tim: Good point. I live in AB. Here, provincial politicians like to pretend to thumb their noise at the Feds or tell the Feds to lay off provincial jurisdictions every so ofter. Especially when they want to distract the electorate from inconvenient issues. But they can't risk spending too much time and energy on it. The populace demands that the province keep things running; health care, transportation, schools, etc...People pay attention to that sort of stuff. The Feds, on the other hand, largely deal with stuff that doesn't directly affect people in their day to day lives. So they can afford to go off on tangents that don't matter and not immediately feel the wrath of the electorate.

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