MONTREAL -- The Conservatives have high hopes for grabbing more seats in Quebec, but independent MP Andre Arthur's seat won't be one of them.
Contrary to what party organizers in the province were saying in the weeks leading up to the campaign, the Tories won't run anyone against the controversial former Quebec City radio host and Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier MP.
The Tories confirmed Monday that there were concerns among party strategists that Arthur's strong showing in the riding could divide the federalist vote and allow the Bloc Quebecois to recover the seat it lost in the January 2006 federal election.
The popular Arthur, a stalwart in local radio for decades in Quebec City, was the only independent MP elected during the last federal election. He won the riding with nearly 40 per cent of the vote.
"I'm like a kid who wakes up on Christmas morning and finds something under the tree," Arthur said of the Conservative decision. "Who am I to say it's not a good idea to make a gift like that to me."
Only three weeks ago, a Conservative organizer had said the party planned to run someone against Arthur despite the fact the independent MP's regularly voted with the Tories in the Commons and has openly praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"I think Harper has given us something that we haven't seen in Canada in the last 50 years," Arthur said. "For the first time we've had a government that says what it does and does what it says."
The Conservatives have been critical of a deal brokered between Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion not to run candidates in each other's ridings.