- The results were a disaster for Stéphane Dion because of the loss of the Liberal stronghold of
; in particular it will lead to grave doubts about his leadership and it is likely to come under early and severe pressure and he might even lose it before the next election. Outremont
- The results are great victory for Stephen Harper – the National Post headline read: Tories Take Bloc Fiefdom
- The results are major reversal for the Bloc Québecois.
TC’s take is somewhat different.
First, with respect to Outremont, it is a significant loss for Dion but it also reflects enduring Liberal Party weakness in Quebec, perhaps in part some lingering impact of sponsorship, but more significantly a longer term loss of confidence in the Liberals among francophone Quebeckers that followed the 1982 constitutional amendments that were implemented over the opposition of the René Levesque PQ Quebec government. There are many reasons for the Liberal decline but it is an established fact, notwithstanding the party’s first place showing in the 2000 election (a result mostly of the unpopularity of Bouchard’s PQ government of the day).
The prattle about Dion’s leadership will be embarrassing to him in the short term, but largely irrelevant as he will be leading the Liberals in the next election, perhaps as soon as later this fall. That will be his real test. He was arrogant in his selection of candidate, and tone deaf to the on the ground politics that were moving all summer to the NDP. He does need to do something about that.
More importantly, however, the
Mulcair’s victory, which could end up being a one-off win, does have some broader potential; the NDP now has seats in all of
The Conservative victory in Roberval isn’t as significant as it might look. Apart from a history of voting for the political right (this used to be Créditiste country), this was the only constituency in the top ten performances of the Conservatives in the last in election in
In a way the most interesting result of the night was the collapse of the Bloc vote in
It appears as well that Conservative success in Roberval (where they won handily) was partly an effort on the part of an economically depressed region to get access to the federal pork barrel (there are no doubt fond memories of a certain Mr. Mulroney here). In Ste Hyacinthe the result seems more like the loss of support that would be normal given the departure of a long time popular incumbent. Given the long and enduring history of
In the end, however, these were by-elections, soon to be yesterday’s news. TC is hard put to see great general trends at work. The Conservatives picked up one more constituency that they might well have won last time. The NDP did make a breakthrough but its broader significance is unclear, and the status quo, more or less, prevailed in Sainte Hyacinthe. And Dion will be the Liberal leader in the next election, notwithstanding the gossip machine on the Rideau.