Thursday, September 18, 2008

Commentary -- Montreal Gazette

L. Ian MacDonald: The Big Seduction -- Harper maintains his determined wooing of Quebec -- National Post

Stephen Harper’s campaign schedule is all about consolidating Conservative gains in Quebec.

The gains were apparent in Thursday’s Leger Marketing poll of the province: Conservatives 34%, Bloc Québécois 32%, Liberals 20%, NDP 9%. In the poll of 1,000 Quebecers, taken between Sept. 12 and 16, the Liberals have fallen to third place in the Montreal region, the Bloc has fallen out of first place for the first time since the 1993 election, and the Conservatives have moved into first place for the first time since the free trade campaign of 1988.

Harper’s tour schedule echoes the poll numbers. In the first two weeks of the campaign, he’s spent part of five days in Quebec. All but one of the events have been in competitive ridings and battleground regions off the island of Montreal. In most of these areas, the race is between the Tories and the Bloc.
In the nationalist heartland of the Saguenay, the Conservatives hold two seats and have their eyes on the third one. Harper was there on Wednesday night, promising to formalize what has always been accepted practice -- that the CRTC chairmanship would alternate between English and French-speaking Canadians. Cost to taxpayers: Zero. The benefit to the Conservatives was apparent in the headline in yesterday’s Journal de Montreal: “The big seduction: a bigger place for francophones on the CRTC.”

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