Tories decline to run candidate in Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier
With Quebec seemingly poised to grant the Conservative party a few more seats (depending upon whom you ask), one would think that the Conservatives would be going for broke in La Belle Province.
Apparently not so, as Independent MP Andre Arthur will find the task of being reelected in Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier a little easier. The Conservatives have decided not to run a candidate there.
The rationale behind this decision is reportedly deciding not to split the federalist vote in the riding, allowing the BQ to pick up a seat. Even with the sovereigntist movement in Quebec splintering, a federalist candidate like Arthur can use every bit of help he can get.
"I'm like a kid who wakes up on Christmas morning and finds something under the tree," Arthur said. "Who am I to say it's not a good idea to make a gift like that to me."
It probably helps that Arthur is at least sympathetic to the Conservatives. "I think Harper has given us something that we haven't seen in Canada in the last 50 years," he said. "For the first time we've had a government that says what it does and does what it says."
Deciding not to run a candidate against Arthur may also be indirect retaliation against Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, who echoed increasingly typically Liberal calls for left-of-centre voters to vote strategically in order to prevent a Conservative majority.
The message in Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier is cystal clear: vote for Andre Arthur to prevent a Bloc MP.
For his own part, Gilles Duceppe has sunk to the lowest common denominator in his quest to deny the Conservative party additional seats, dropping the B-word (Bush) in a campaign stop in Montreal.
"The Conservatives of Stephen Harper have an ideological vision inspired by that of George W Bush," Duceppe insisted, then actually tried to dig deeper in his quest to equate the Conservatives with what he considers to be a vile ideological figure. "The Reform party is there, hiding under the skirts of the Conservative Party, but more and more it is showing itself."
Of course, the Reform party has never tried to break up Canada with a racially divisive ideology as its foundation, unlike some other parties in Canada...
As the campaign gears up, there remain serious questions about whether or not the Bloc can really stop a Conservative majority.
In the meantime, however, the Conservatives have put the federalist cause in Quebec ahead of their own interests. It isn't that surprising -- it's what Stephen Harper has done ever since he took office.