Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Promising nothing

There's certainly reason for concern about what the Cons would want to change about Canada's constitution given the chance. But it's worth noting that their current musings don't seem to involve any change at all to the status quo other than more Con seats in Quebec:
Emphasizing the Conservative receptiveness to “Quebec's historical demands,” Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn raised the possibility of winning 30 to 40 seats in the province, up from the current 11.

“The recognition of the Quebec nation within Canada allows us to think that we can put some meat around it, and that a majority government is more able to do a number of things, while being respectful of all of the provinces,” Mr. Blackburn said in an interview.
And as noted in the Globe and Mail's report, there's plenty of reason to doubt the Cons are doing much other than trying to posture for soft-nationalist votes while rocking the boat as little as possible elsewhere:
The Conservatives are treading carefully to manage expectations and avoid a backlash in the rest of Canada...

Mr. Blackburn spoke positively, albeit guardedly, of launching further constitutional talks with the provinces if the Conservatives form a majority.

A number of constitutional changes require the assent of all of the provinces, but leadership on the matter usually comes from Ottawa.

Mr. Blackburn said the Conservatives are “much more receptive to Quebec's historical demands” than the Liberals, using language from the days of the failed Meech Lake accord that described Quebec as a distinct society.
All of which suggests that the Cons are offering little more than fuzzy language to hide their future agenda from one or more of their targeted voting blocs. Which from a strategic perspective looks to be a sign of resignation that the Cons aren't about to pick up the seats they need to build a genuine seat majority anywhere other than Quebec, and thus have to try to sell different messages in Western Canada and Quebec in order to improve on their current Lib-supported pseudo-majority.

Of course, the problem with that plan is that there's an easy response from the opposition: force the Cons to explain what they mean by "receptive" and "historical demands", then highlight the gap between the expectations the Cons are trying to build and what they're actually willing to commit to. And if the opposition parties can succeed in generating outrage over the Cons' duplicity among groups of voters who have seldom stood for the same in the past, then Blackburn's gambit may do little more than seal the Cons' fate as a one-term government.

No comments:

Post a Comment