Saturday, September 05, 2009

On open seats

There's been plenty of discussion about the Bloc's intention to run Daniel Paille as its candidate in Hochelaga. But there seems to have been far too little mention of the fact that some Bloc loyalists themselves are less than happy to have Harper's hand-picked investigator imposed on them as a candidate:
Maxime Bellerose, le président d'association dans ce bastion bloquiste, a pressé son chef de renoncer à cette idée, hier, en rappelant que les dirigeants du parti se sont formellement engagés, il y a une semaine à peine, à ce qu'une assemblée d'investiture en bonne et due forme ait lieu dans Hochelaga.

Selon M. Bellerose, la nouvelle que M. Duceppe compte imposer Daniel Paillé a soulevé «inquiétude et incrédulité» chez les militants bloquistes...

«Nous pensons que notre parti et surtout notre chef croient fortement au processus démocratique, et nous sommes convaincus que pour le bien de la vie démocratique du parti, il y aura une assemblée d'investiture juste et équitable pour tous les candidats. Si le parti passait outre et choisissait de ne pas accorder d'investiture en invoquant l'urgence d'élections imminentes, ce serait un grave déni de démocratie pour les citoyens et membres de Hochelaga», a soutenu hier M. Bellerose.
From the sound of it, the Bloc will ultimately go ahead with an actual nomination meeting while simply naming Paille as an economic adviser, rather than outright appointing Paille as a candidate. But it's worth wondering whether an eventual nomination itself will be seen as a result of party meddling - and more importantly, whether the Bloc's current support base might end up fracturing if Paille becomes the candidate.

After all, as Stockholm notes at babble, the Hochelaga riding looks on its face to have a fairly strong left-wing bent as well as sovereigntist predilections. And in recent memory, the Bloc has held it by large margins while running Real Menard, whose credentials on both the sovereigntist and progressive angles were difficult to challenge.

But the expected nomination of Paille - with his resume including not only his appointment by Harper to try to uncover dirt on the Libs, but also a fairly heavy pro-corporate background (warning: PDF) - might well result in a split in those factions. And the NDP will be offering a strong progressive alternative by once again running prominent union leader Jean-Claude Rocheleau.

Of course, the Bloc will still be the heavy favourite, particularly based on Paille's name recognition. But the combination of a fairly favourable riding and a Bloc base with two obvious reasons for disillusionment should make this into one of the NDP's better targets in Quebec - meaning that if nothing else, the going shouldn't be as easy for the Bloc as it has been in the past.

As an aside, let's note this tidbit from another article on Paille's nomination:
Paille said he looks forward to joining the Bloc and has admired the party for a long time.

He said he intends to fight Ottawa on its plan to create a national securities regulator, and criticized what he called the Tories' stubbornness on tax harmonization.
Which would seem to suggest all of the opposition parties are on side with the idea of cornering the Cons on tax harmonization - even if the Libs aren't playing quite the best possible role in that regard.

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