Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quebec City-Ottawa Political Switcheroo

The rumors are swirling that the current federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Cannon, may be tapped to replace the current leader of the Quebec Provincial Liberal party, Jean Charest.

Cannon, a minister in the Federal Canadian Progressive Conservative party, is considered a "red Tory," fiscally conservative (the Tory part) and socially Liberal (the red part.) Though he denies he's considering it, many say he would be an excellent choice to replace Charest in the Liberal party because he has previous experience in Quebec provincial politics and that he would be a natural fit in the center-left Quebec Liberals.

On the other hand, Mr. Charest, who's facing a great deal of heat at home over the economy is not expected to run for a fourth term. Rumors have it that he may be considering a run at the top job in the Federal Conservative Party. This would not be too unusual for Mr. Charest either as he used to hold almost exactly that job, only as part of a previous incarnation of the Tories.

In Quebec, unlike in other provinces, there is no official affiliation between the federal and provincial Liberal parties and there is no provincial Conservative party. This being said, federalists of all stripes who want to enter into Quebec politics end up in the Quebec provincial liberals. There is a strange situation, therefore, where federal Conservatives become provincial Liberals and vice versa. The Question is which way would Cannon lean as premier of Quebec. That's yet to be seen.

If such a switcheroo happens, Cannon may find himself in a better position than Charest. Cannon seems to be the darling of the Quebec Liberal Party, for the moment and so the likelihood of him being given the chance to walk into the top Quebec office seems high. Charest, on the other hand, will, if he leaves any time soon, be leaving Quebec an unpopular leader only to take the reins of a party which can be rightly criticized for having such weak support in Quebec. Then there's the Question of the current leader of the Federal Conservatives, Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He doesn't seem ready to go anywhere, and so Charest would have to contest him in a leadership race. On the other hand--having met the man--Charest is an articulate, charming, likable, fluently-bilingual, "red Tory" who may have wide appeal across Canada, especially amongst those "soft" Liberal and Tory voters.


PSim said...

This would have to wait for the next leadership review. Does anyone know when that might happen?

Blackstar said...

Interesting. I always wondered about the Quebec Liberal and Federal Conservative relationship...

Charlie H. Ettinson said...

On the face of it, they make strange bedfellows. On the other hand, there is no other (serious) federalist party at the provincial level in Quebec and no affiliation between any of the Quebec provincial parties with federal ones. I suppose this draws anyone interested in Quebec politics towards the Liberals.