Saturday, September 26, 2009

As planned

When Daniel Paille was first announced as the Bloc's likely candidate in Hochelaga, I noted how a split in the Bloc's usual combination of sovereigntist and progressive voters might significantly improve the chances of the NDP's Jean-Claude Rocheleau. Now, it looks like events are playing out about as well as the NDP could possibly have hoped:
While one prospective Bloc Québécois nomination candidate has stepped aside in favour of Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe's preferred candidate, Daniel Paillé, another one is not going anywhere, reports Les Nouvelles Hochelaga-Maissonneuve. Former aide to former Bloc M.P. Réal Ménard, Benoît Demuy, had been selling memberships since June, but after meeting with Duceppe on September 4, decided to withdraw from the race. Not so for Jean Baribeau, a 25-year resident of the riding and math teacher who describes himself as a "sovereignist and confirmed social democrat" who "has politics in his blood" and thinks people in his community don't want a "parachute candidate". Baribeau had been seeking a meeting with Duceppe all summer while he was selling membership cards, he says, but never got any reply. Meanwhile the Bloc has brought in veteran organizer Patrick Marais to help Paillé with his nomination campaign, according to Le Devoir. Thus there will be at least two candidates for the Bloc nomination meeting, whenever it is held. No word on any prospective Liberal, Conservative or Green candidates as yet, but nominated NDP candidate Jean-Claude Rocheleau has evidently been following the Bloc race, and recently highlighted his own local roots to Les Nouvelles as well.
In light of Demuy's apparent head start in selling memberships, it would seem highly likely that the Bloc's party apparatus will enable Paille to take the nomination. But the prospect of Baribeau spending a contentious nomination battle spreading two themes ("parachute candidate" as a criticism and "social democrat" as an ideological identity) which mirror the NDP's preferred messages for the by-election campaign should help make many Bloc voters far more receptive to Rocheleau once the by-election takes place than they might have been otherwise. And that could present exactly the opening the NDP needs to establish itself as Hochelaga's leading alternative to the Bloc in the coming campaign and beyond.

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