Good afternoon, John.
by Chris Hannay 8/1/2012 4:06:16 PM
Hello Chris. Happy to be doing this chat on the first day of the Quebec provincial election.
by John Ibbitson 8/1/2012 4:06:54 PM
Yes, Liberal Leader Jean Charest dissolved the National Assembly only about 40 minutes ago.
Let's get to the first reader question.
by Chris Hannay 8/1/2012 4:08:28 PM
The chances of a Liberal victory are about even-odds, I'd guess. Yes, corruption scandals have hurt the Liberals, but the PQ isn't exactly beloved, leader Pauline Marois is unpopular, and the new Coalition Avenir Quebec is, well, new. As for whether I think one party should win, I leave that to Quebec voters to decide.
by John Ibbitson 8/1/2012 4:11:31 PM
The Harper government will watch the election closely, without interfering at all. The federal Conservatives won't want to be seen as intervening in provincial politics. That said, of course, a PQ win would make life more difficult. But the Tories are more interested in whether there is any appetite in Quebec for conservative economic solutions to that province's enormous financial troubles. So they will watch the progress of the CAQ with great interest.
by John Ibbitson 8/1/2012 4:15:23 PM
Something you wrote about yesterday: www.theglobeandmail.com
by Chris Hannay 8/1/2012 4:16:07 PM
If the CAQ does well,it could lead to a minority government situation. Because of its platform of ignoring sovereignty to focus on economic challenges, the CAQ is ideologically closer to the Liberals, and would probably support them. I don't know how Quebec Solidaire will fare. Not well, I suspect.
by John Ibbitson 8/1/2012 4:19:57 PM
Never, is the best guess. Even if the PQ wins, there is no strong support for sovereignty right now among the majority of the Quebec population. Another referendum would damage an already-fragile economy. And the Clarity Act would make that referendum harder to win. So if I had to bet, I'd say there won't be one in this decade. It's a bet I'd love to win.
by John Ibbitson 8/1/2012 4:22:44 PM
Gord, se my reply to Mkhan.
by John Ibbitson 8/1/2012 4:23:16 PM
More on the Quebec/Rona situation: www.theglobeandmail.com
by Chris Hannay 8/1/2012 4:24:03 PM
It has to do with Quebec Inc., a deeply entrenched notion that the Quebec economy and culture are linked. Outside of Quebec, if the Americans wanted to buy a Canadian hardware company, they'd buy it. It's hardware, for crying out loud. But the Charest government is worried about being seen as weak in defence of Quebec interests. There are fears an American buyer would use American rather than Quebec supplyers. So the Liberals are proposing buying shares to block the sale. Nationalizing the hardware sector of your economy. This only makes sense in Quebec.
by John Ibbitson 8/1/2012 4:27:42 PM
I guess the followup question is - do you think the Liberals would have done the same thing if they weren't headed into an election?
by Chris Hannay 8/1/2012 4:29:10 PM
It's a good question, Chris. A Liberal government, coming off an election win, might have let the sale go through to show it was serious about bringing market reforms to Quebec Inc. But on the eve of an election, that was politically impossible. A PQ government would never allow the sale.
by John Ibbitson 8/1/2012 4:31:41 PM