Opposition leaders say Quebec
election no victory for Harper
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:45 p.m. March 27, 2007]
The three opposition leaders said Tuesday that it would be unwise
for the Conservative government to view Monday's Quebec election
results as a victory for themselves.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest and the Liberals lost their
majority government despite the federal government announcing in the
home stretch of the campaign billions in new transfers to the
province to take care of the fiscal imbalance.
The Liberals won 48 seats, the ADQ won 41 seats and the Parti
Quebecois won 36 seats.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said before question period
Tuesday that the results were "good news" primarily
because the separatist Parti Quebecois placed third.
"Obviously we're very encouraged to see we have a government in
Quebec that is opposed to having another referendum, we have now an
official opposition that's opposed to having another referendum.
It's the first time in almost four decades that we've seen a
situation like this."
While the opposition ADQ does not want a referendum, its party
leader, Mario Dumont, is not a federalist but a self-declared
"autonomist," who wants greater powers for Quebec within
To get legislation through the National Assembly, Charest will now
need the cooperation of the autonomist ADQ or the separatist
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, who said he will take
Dumont at his word that he does not want a referendum and wants to
work within Canada, said the real problem is the prime minister's
lack of clarity on what he means when he speaks about open
federalism for Quebec.
"Never he said which power, which jurisdiction he wants to withdraw from the federal
government," Dion said at a press conference in Ottawa. "He must be clear."
Dion accused the prime minister of already "tarnishing"
federalism to win votes in Quebec.
"I think it's time to have a prime minister who is making the case for Canada in Quebec saying that we have a great
country," he said. "It's not true that it's domineering that it is unfair that we need to elect Stephen Harper to fix that."
"This is a game we should stop to play. We should be able to say that nothing justifies separation in Canada, nothing in Quebec, nothing elsewhere."
Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe also warned Canadians
not to read too much into PQ's third-place finish.
"The federalist leaders have to be very careful," he said
at a press conference on Parliament Hill. "A lot of times in
the past they said, 'Sovereignty is dead.' Every six months the Bloc
is gone forever. So I'm used to that."
NDP Leader Jack Layton also disagreed with a national
newspaper headline that declared "Harper's Quebec gamble pays
"Well, I think that would be an over simplified early reaction
to what has taken place," Layton said.
Layton credited the growth in support for the ADQ as a protest
"There's a change going on in Québec politics and I think many
Quebecers came forward and simply said we feel left out of the political
process,'" he said.
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