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Upcoming By-Election In Bonaventure is Something Quebec Voters Should Be Watching And Why I am Rooting for The Liberal Candidate

The by-election in the Gaspesie riding of Bonaventure will be held on December 5–less than a month from now.  It’s a by-election, much like last year’s by-election in Kamouraska-Temiscouata, will be one to watch. The task at hand is to elect a successor to former natural resources minister and deputy premier, Nathalie Normandeau, who resigned last September, citing “personal reasons”.

This by-election will be one to watch as, like last year, this will be a test less on Premier Johnny-boy Charest than for Pauline Marois’s leadership. Like last year, Premier Johnny-boy and his Liberals are also polling very low, these days, as they once again, attempt to ride out that age old construction scandal.  However, unlike last year, La Marois and the Parti-Quebecois are able to gain traction on the woes of Premier Johnny-boy. Also,  a mythical party, starring Francois Legault wasn’t polled and now, it’s leading the pack. Well, only leading if Gilles Duceppe doesn’t take over the Parti-Quebecois, but that’s another subject for another time.

Bonaventure is traditionally a Liberal stronghold , perhaps more so than Kamouraska-Temiscouata. With an exception of a PQ blurb from 1994-1998 under Marcel Landry, the Liberals held the riding since 1956. First, held by Gerard D Levesque from 1956 – 1993, then again, in 1998, under Nathalie Normandeau.  As such, from where I’m sitting, the voters of Bonaventure generally prefer stability as opposed to change, for the most part. I believe  Gerard Levesque must hold the record for MNA longevity.

Despite the fact that Bonaventure has been a Liberal stronghold up until now, I say that La Marois has much more to lose than Premier Johnny-Boy Charest. The very fact that he is polling so low, the fact that Premier Johnny-Boy already looks like a lame duck, basically means that expectations will be much lower from the Liberal candidate than for the PQ candidate. One can argue that it is La Marois and PQistes to lose.

It should also be noted that even though Francois Legault’s CAQ is supposed to be officially, a real bonafide provincial party early next week, he has confirmed that he is not running a candidate under the CAQ (Coalition pour l’Avenir du Quebec) in this upcoming by-election.

However, there are already rumours flying around that  Legault’s CAQ will merge with the ADQ.  Apparently, ADQ leader, Gerard Deltell has been chatting it up with Legault these days.   Some on Twitter are even suggesting that they’ve already merged.  It remains to be seen if the two right of center parties (well, one anyway, and a soon to become one) have already or will seal some kind of merger deal with each other. The Montreal Gazette ‘s Kevin Dougherty doesn’t seem to think so :

Not helping matters, the ADQ’s accumulated deficit stood at $710,703 at the end of 2010, making a merger with the Coalition difficult.

Rather than absorb the debt, Legault’s party is more likely to take on ADQ survivors as they abandon their leaking ship.

I happen to share that same view. But, I digress…

Let the games begin!

Meet the Candidates

Liberal : Damien Arsenault was the mayor of St-Elzear, a town within the riding of Bonaventure, for 17 years. Can he pull it off and keep the riding in Liberal hands despite many scandals plaguing his party at this time?
I would guess that perhaps the deal signed between the feds and the Quebec Liberal party, via Nathalie Normandeau, regarding drilling in the offshore oil reserve, Old Harry.  The Gaspesie, being a region where unemployment has been chronic for many years, the Old Harry deal could potentially bring many jobs to the region.  Granted, if another party were to succeed the Liberals come the next election, be it Parti-Quebecois or be it Francois Legault’s CAQ (Coalition pour l’Avenir du Quebec), I suspect that eventually, la Belle Province will be exploring Old Harry and begin the drilling games.

Also, let’s remember that sometimes, Quebecers aren’t always that thankful. Remember that with last year’s by-election in Kamouraska-Temiscouata,  premier Johnny-boy gave the contract for Montreal’s new metro cars to Bombardier, the plant in La Pocatiere–a major source of employment in that region. Albeit by a hair, the PQ squeaked through, anyway.

Parti-Quebecois: Sylvain Roy: a sociology professor at CEGEP Carleton-sur-Mer and municipal councillor of Escuminac will try to repeat what Marcel Landry did in 1998.  However, needless to say, Lucien Bouchard was premier back then and like him or hate him, the fact remains that Bouchard commanded more respect in the party than La Marois does today. Roy does have his work cut out for him for more reasons than one.

Quebec-Solidaire: Patricia Chartier, having run under this party’s banner in 2008, will be taking another crack in this by-election.  She and her party came in fourth in the 2008 general election, having seen her party’s vote count go down by almost half its’ votes from the 2007 general election, then represented by Helene Morin.

Mme Chartier is also NDP MP for Gaspesie-Les Isles de la Madeleine, Philip Toone.  Federally, she has been skewered for working for an NDP MP but running under a sovereigntist party. I wonder how many in the area will be bothered by this?

Things don’t look promising for Patricia Chartier in this by-election for the above reasons.

ADQ :  a late entry for Georges Painchaud.  This choice of candidate and the problems ( particularly financial ones ) of the ADQ could bode well for QS Patricia Chartier as a “none of the above” vote.

A native of Les Isles de la Madeleine, but spent most of his adult life in Montreal, Painchaud is a parachute candidate (sshh, don’t say that too loud! Apparently he’s quite sensitive about being dubbed as a parachute!).  A career Montreal cop from 1969 -2005. He was the head of the Montreal Policeman Brotherhood for some time.

Painchaud is also a failed candidate who ran under the Liberal banner in the 2008 general election in the Montreal Southshore riding of Vachon –a far cry from Bonaventure, indeed.  He came in a distant second after the PQ’s Camil Bouchard.

However, given the rumours of a merger between Francois Legault’s CAQ and the ADQ and that Francois Legault has already said that he and his party are not running a candidate in this by-election, is it possible that those rumours may actually help Painchaud? More to the point, Is Painchaud an ADQ candidate or a would be newly merged CAQ/ADQ?  Or, as Kevin Dougherty’s article suggests, given that Legault would more likely swallow the remaining surviving ADQ MNAs, and if  the voters assume that  Painchaud would later be absorbed by Legaut,  there is an outside chance he could win.

Why I  Would Like To See the Liberals Hold on To Bonavneture in the Upcoming By-election

No, I haven’t become a fan of Premier Johnny-boy Charest as of late and he and his party are really not likely to get my vote in the next general election. Come to think of it, Johnny-boy is a lame duck.

My motives are strictly from a strategic view point.  La Marois knows that all eyes will be on her, likely, more than on Premier Johnny-Boy as A) Johnny-boy has no potential successors at this point, where La Marois does.  B) As such, La Marois knows, as pretty much everyone else does,  is that if her candidate doesn’t win, it will no doubt mean further pressure for her to resign.  And yes, even her typical arrogance won’t help in this event.  She would have good reason for this arrogance, as she would earn the bragging rights of having taken not one, but two Liberal strongholds in the last two by-elections (the first being, of course, Kamouraska-Temiscouata).

I already said that my vote in the next provincial election will depend on who I think can give Stevie Spiteful and the Harpercons big, nasty head-aches; who will raise Stevie’s blood pressure to the point where his face turns purple?  True, La Marois has a very shrilly voice that makes me feel like driving nails through my skull, but she would be ineffective. Hell, at times, I trust Premier Johnny-boy to give Stevie Spiteful a harder time (only sometimes though, not enough for me).

Should Damien Arsenault win and keep the seat Liberal, despite Premier Johnny-boy’s lack of popularity and  scandals,  it’s bye-bye La Marois!  A new leader for the PQ would have to be selected and despite the fact that Gilles Duceppe has said that he has no intentions of going after the PQ leadership, he can always change his mind — not the first time a politician changes their mind.  I think lots of folks would like very much to have Gilles Duceppe at the helm of the PQ.  Duceppe–now here’s a man who be in Harper’s nightmares for a long time to come! Yes, if Gilles Duceppe took over the PQ, he and the party would get my vote.  Judging by the latest polls, saying he’s the only one who could take Francois Legault’s CAQ in the next election, I don’t seem to be alone.

Of course there’s no way of knowing with absolute certainty that Gilles Duceppe would change his mind and throw his hat into the ring, naturally.  However, we do know that other than Andre Boisclair,  there are not too many who would be worse than La Marois.

My bottom line, of course, is that I do not want to see Francois Legault and the CAQ get into power.  Hell, even Premier Johnny-boy would be the lesser or evils if the contest were simply between Legault and hisself. No, not a right winged party with a  pro-corporate leader who would no doubt be too chummy with Stevie Spiteful.  There would be a bigger chance for Legault and CAQ  to win if La Marois sticks around.

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