CFN – Two provincial elections expected in the spring could have huge repercussions for the federal Conservatives.
Just as Ground Hog Day is a sign that spring is coming, photos of Premier Kathleen Wynne showing up at the doors of Toronto homeowners with baskets of food indicates Ontarians will soon be heading to the polls.
Apparently even Wynne believes her Liberal minority government is destined to fall with her next budget in the spring.
But opinion polls suggest an Ontario election won’t change much.
The Liberal bastions of Toronto, Peel and York regions appear to be safe — which signals another minority government for Wynne.
If he isn’t able to score a breakthrough in the 905 and 416, Tim Hudak’s days as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party will be numbered.
And with no heir apparent in the PC caucus, loyalists will be looking to Stephen Harper’s cabinet ranks for a white knight to rescue them.
If Hudak loses the next election, the most likely to receive calls from their Toronto-based brethren would be two former members of the Mike Harris cabinet: John Baird and Tony Clement.
Whether either would leave his plum Ottawa cabinet post to toil as the leader of the opposition in Ontario remains to be seen.
Certainly both men would feel some sense of obligation to at least consider the move for the sake of improving the fortunes of Canada’s largest province, which has been left listless under the Ontario Liberals.
However at a time when Harper’s own popularity is sagging, a loss of two of his most senior ministers would be a significant blow to the bench strength of his cabinet.
While Ontario’s election could bring unwelcome news to the prime minister, there is an opportunity for the federal Conservatives if Quebec voters head to the provincial polls.
Like Ontario, Quebec has a minority government and a moribund economy.
It’s expected the Parti Quebecois government, led by Pauline Marios, will also lose their next budget vote — triggering an election.
Which means the opposition Quebec Liberals will have a distinct advantage if the upcoming campaign focuses on Marois’ poor economic track record.
Marois has been trying to deflect attention away from economic issues by promoting her so-called Charter of Quebec Values.
She would prohibit public sector workers from wearing items that express their religious faith. Religious groups — Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews — are united against this measure.
Quebeckers are split almost 50/50 on the issue but this benefits the PQ.
The segments of the population that most support the religious prohibitions reside outside of Montreal — in the ridings the PQ needs to win to retain power.
Quebec is largely a political wasteland for the Harper Conservatives; but Harper knows the province is critical to the federal Liberals if leader Justin Trudeau is to have any hope of moving his part out of third place.
Both Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair represent ridings in Montreal. Both have spoken out against the Quebec Charter.
In a province where local issues routinely spill over into federal campaigns, the Quebec Charter issue could leave Trudeau’s and Mulcair’s support confined to Montreal-area ridings.
That could mean a big opportunity for the Bloc Quebecois in the next federal election in rural Quebec.
In a multi-party parliament where the enemy of my enemy is my friend, a BQ resurgence would suit the federal Conservatives’ re-election bid nicely.
Harper would like nothing better than to see Mulcair lose a number of seats in Quebec.
But if the Conservatives can’t win those seats, then the odd BQ win would be better than to see Trudeau and the Liberals take them.
Indeed, what could be more valuable to Harper than to see three federal opposition parties evenly split Quebec among themselves, a result that would increase the likelihood of another Conservative majority government?
Maddie Di Muccio originally printed this piece in the Toronto Sun. She has graciously allowed us to reprint it here on CFN.
She is a municipal town councillor in Newmarket, and has been outspoken regarding transparent and accountable government, appearing on the Michael Coren Show, Newstalk 1010, AM 640, and various print media. Di Muccio has hosted local lectures on a series of “Empowering” groups of individuals and featuring prominent personalities, and was invited to speak on empowering females in politics at the Manning Network Convention for 2013. She writes a bi-weekly column on GTA municipal issues in the Toronto Sun. As vice-president for Society for Quality Education, her priorities focus on children and youth issues and concerns. Di Muccio is the parent of three school-age boys.
Catch Maddie on Seawayradio.com Tuesday January 7, 2014 at 10AM EST or listen on demand after!