"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quebec 101

No, not Loi 101. The course.

Do you have no idea what Suroît is? Or Mont-Orford? Or the Viaduc Concorde? Do the ins and outs of Quebec public-sector labour relations bore you to tears? It bores 99% of Quebecers to tears. It bores 98% of Quebec public servants to tears.

Does the name SuperMario recall a retired NHL player or a video game, instead of a guy who went for a walk in the desert, so to speak? Did you even know that Quebec now has two separatist parties, one of which was founded on the ashes of the NDP? Or that both separatist parties have token anglo candidates of some infame?

You didn't follow the Joe-Clarkesque fall of Bernard Landry and the subsequent PQ leadership race? Do you still, naively, think of "snow" as a form of frozen precipitation that falls in Quebec for 19 months of the year?

Pas de problème. This course is for you.

A) First, you need to know that SuperMario is Mario Dumont, the head of the small-c conservative, ambiguously ambiguous, perennial (for the past 1.5 decades) third party, the ADQ, during most of which time he's been its only elected member. Dumont and his party have, at various times, enjoyed strong public support. He, and they, to the extent there is a "they", also have had the disconcerting habit, if you are them, of peaking too soon. And that's "too soon", as in, "before the election is even called".

B) Memorize these numbers: 46, 33 ,18. Those are the popular vote percentages realized by the Liberals (PLQ), PQ and ADQ in the 2003 election.

C) In 1998, the PLQ under Jean Charest took 43.6% of the vote to the PQ's 42.9%. The PQ formed a comfortable majority government of 76 seats. In 1994, the PLQ under Daniel Johnson took 44.4% of the vote to the PQ's 44.75%, a difference of little over one-third of one percent. The PQ took 77 seats. Discuss, with reference to B), above.

Here's a handy cheat-sheet. This graph shows the support for the three main parties, starting with the 2003 election results, according to various published opinion polls over the past four years:

And here, according to the same colour scheme, is what each of those popular-vote figures yields when plugged into each of three votes-into-seats forecasting models, again starting with the actual 2003 results:

There are 125 seats in the National Assembly, meaning it takes 63 of them to form even the slimmest of majorities.

There. Now you are caught up, and you can go back to ignoring Quebec politics for another four... well, it's not going to be years. Months? weeks? days?

For once, it looks like Quebec really is going to be "volatile", which is why political junkies are having so much fun these days. So if you're a political junkie who's not having fun... stay tuned these next nine days. It is going to be a wild ride, and the best part is, it's probably just beginning.


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