09.28.2015 08:49 AM

KCCCC Day 57: in The Yukon, thinking about The Quebec


  • We are at the Whitehorse airport, Vancouver-bound. But I keep staring at this Abacus graph about Québec, which more or less reflects what other folks have been reporting in recent days. 


  • Look at that orange line. Look at that blue line. You can find the full Abacus poll here, but you don’t have to be an expert in survey methodology to see that the NDP are in trouble. Liberals steady, Conservatives moving up. And Tom Mulcair losing ground dramatically. The NDP may be returning to their traditional role: a parking lot between elections. 
  • What’s the reason? Some have speculated it is the Niqab thing. Quite a few who watched the French debate suggested as much in comments.
  • Personally, I admired what Mulcair has said about the issue. And I’ve said as much, here. It took guts. 
  • Some of his Québec candidates likely don’t feel the same way. Don’t be surprised if you see some of them start to pop off about the Niqab issue as their fortunes slide. 
  • What do you think? Is it the Niqab, or is it something else? Whatever it is, one thing is clear: what comes in with the Orange tide may now be going out with the Orange tide. 


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    The Observer says:

    A few observations on Trudeau’s terrorist citizenship position and recent audio which will affect the polls/outcome:
    – he is not staking out a theoretical position in a university debating club, he’s advocating in the context of one who wishes to lead and protect Canada
    – that he chooses to advocate on behalf of those who seek to destroy our country and murder our women and children speaks to many things, including a lack of appreciation of the above point
    – how one says something is often as important as what one says
    – the audio evidences both a passionate sympathy and vitriolic scorn: that the sympathy is reserved for those who wish to destroy us and the scorn directed to one who stands in the way of his political ambitions makes the audio exceptionally damaging to Trudeau
    – those who are coming to his defence on Twitter (including again Mr. Coyne) are showing a continuing and alarming detachedness from everyday Canadians

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      Scott says:

      So says a fringe right winger. You sound suspiciously like a fellow named Observant.

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        Lance says:

        And so says a diehard party hack as cannot refute any of that.

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        UFP Ambassador says:

        “Fringe right winger”. Huh. JT going to have the same to say about Nazi’s? I guess he would have protected Demjanjuk and the like and made sure they stayed safe here in Canada, because they were, y’know, “Canadian”?

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      Mike says:

      i’m sorry Observer, but he is advocating on my behalf and I have no plans to commit any act of terrorism.

      Why has the CPC made me a second class citizen in my own country? Why can my citizenship be revoked but your can’t?

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        soozbc says:

        Because you cannot strip citizenship from someone and leave them stateless. The law pertains to those with dual-citizenship. But hey we could resolve the whole issue by making the conviction of terrorist activities equal to conviction of treason and impose the traditional penalty of execution! Somehow stripping of citizenship and deporting seems to be the kinder, gentler solution.

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        The Observer says:

        A few observations about Mike’s position:
        – being a “second class citizen” is dependent on two preconditions, 1) you choose to maintain dual citizenship and 2) you are a convicted terrorist intent on destroying Canada and killing out women and children to carry out our destruction
        – assuming you haven’t been convicted of terrorism, it would seem that your argument doesn’t appear to make sense
        – given that the dual citizenship provides the legal means to carry out the ousting from Canada (under international law we can’t render people stateless) and it is obviously the terrorism which is the impetus of the sanction, your argument appears to suggest that the act of committing terrorism is somehow irrelevant to this all – something Canadians would not agree with
        – most Canadians are in favour of not having them as citizens at all, let alone second class ones
        – as for all those who may be terrorists in waiting/planning but who have not yet been caught and who also have dual citizenship, I suspect almost all would be comfortable labelling them “second class citizens”.

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    CM says:

    It wasn’t an orange wave in 2011 but a Jack Layton wave. Layton was inherently likeable whereas you can’t say the same thing about Mulcair.

    I think that Mulcair miscalculated by campaigning on his “experience” and steadiness. Basically he’s offering change that doesn’t cary much risk. He’s running like he’s been a cabinet minister for a couple of decades or something. He has no energy and there’s nothing seemingly new about him. The fact is he was a peripheral figure in Quebec politics and nobody there really got a good look at him until last week and I don’t think they were impressed.

    NDP support has been a mile wide and an inch deep, especially outside Quebec. These polls reflect that.

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      doconnor says:

      Jack Layton has been gone a long time. That doesn’t explain why the polls are only falling now.

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        Vancouverois says:

        Yes, but there hasn’t been an election since then until now. Voters are once again paying attention to what’s happened since 2011, and what’s going on now.

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    Lou says:

    Just like Ed Broadbent , the PM who never was… Its not the niqab …its Mulclairs duplicity ..His stands changed depending who he was talking to , people dont believe his economic “facts” …and quite frankly he staged a quiet “coup” in his party , dragging it to the center and ignoring its grassroots and his party policy book that is at great odds with his campaign..Canadians are tired of religious and cultural accomdation to the small sector of immigrants who show little respect to our history , culture and societal standards .. We welcome people , care for them till they get on their feet and offer them freedoms and economic possibilities beyond immagination in their own homelands.. It need to be a two way street. …

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    Alex says:

    I can think of three reasons the NDP are sliding. (1) The Niqab debate is killing them in Quebec. Of the two “anti-Niqab” parties, the Cons are gaining more than the Bloc. (2) Justin’s convenient conversion to socialism is winning him progressive voters. Of course, the Justin-led Martinites will ditch their socialist hearts post-election whenever it suits them, but we are not there yet. (3) Tom Mulcair is not that likeable, and I say this as someone who plans to vote NDP.

    It looks like the nightmare is starting. The worst PM in modern Canadian history may get reelected because: a) progressives can’t get their act together; b) a wedge issue involving only a handful of Muslim women across Canada is hijacking the debate in Quebec; and c) the NDP is led by someone who does not look, sound or feel like a progressive. There are other reasons, but at this point I am just going to go throw up.

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      ralphonso says:

      Absolutely spot on re: the NDP Québec analysis.

      As for the reelection of Harper, you’re missing a few things:

      d) voters are searching for meaning and values. “Progressive” is meaningless, it means everything to all, and when something is meaningless there is no reason to coalesce and vote for it.

      e) Harper has done a very good job at being PM (policy preferences aside, of course), particularly at delivering a very centrist platform. He does things around the edges to please his base, but leaves his core planks/actions to appeal to the masses.

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        bobbie says:

        The most obvious reason for the decline of the NDP polls support could be, in part the niqab stance but from the very beginning of their campaign IMO they and the media misinterpreted the Alberta revenge vote. They developed their campaign based on those wrong ideas….and they didn’t wash with the other parts of the country.

        Remember that Notley said that HER NDP was not Mulcair’s NDP. Which NDP is Mulcair heading exactly? B.C. NDP? Quebec NDP? Ontario’s? If you’re all things to all NDPers that makes what exactly? A party with no grounding.

        Then there’s the usual snipping in within the NDP itself, similar to what Horwath got in Ontario. Too far right…and too far gone to right that ship.

        I also think that Mulcair wrongly defined the ballot question in this election. HE doesn’t get to decide this….the voting public do. You’re seeing that now in the falling NDP numbers.

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          ralphonso says:

          Great points. I think the NDP got the ballot question right. What they got wrong was Canadians’ preferred solution/answer.

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      BlueGritr says:

      Come October 19th, it will most certainly be Justin over SH. Reason: NDPers will want to stop SH at any cost, even if it means voting Liberal. That said, you’re so right — point #2: “Justin-led Martinites will ditch their socialist hearts”. Federal Liberal Party legacy: campaign from the Left and govern from the Right. Running big deficits once in power: not a snowball’s chance.

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    Christian says:

    It is the Niqab thing. The terrorist thing. And the refugee thing.

    What do all these things have in common? Two things. First and fortunately for Harper (no – the refugee issue was not the problem for Harper the chattering class said it would be) they became election issues at about the same time the Conservatives brought Lynton Crosby on board. Crosby specializes in wedge issue campaigning.

    Second, they represent ‘values’ of what it means to be Canadian. There are no shades of grey with any of these things. They provoke an emotional reaction and the candidate that is on the right side of the majority of that reaction will carry the day. As you said in “Fight the Right” (yes, I’m shamelessly sucking up Warren – but you were right) its the Conservative Party that understands far better then either ther Liberals or NDP that ‘values’ are what matter. More than the economy, the environment, infrastructure or any raft of issues. Duceppe gets this too, which makes sense given the ‘Us vs. Them’ basis the BQ is founded on (something they have in common with the Harper Cons). Elizabeth May’s noble but futile attempt to redirect the debate away from the Niquab underscores this. Harper and Crosby have the data that tells them that unfortunately the majority of Canadians across the entire political spectrum are not as “progressive” on these issues as we like to think.

    The ‘value’ issues that Harper is now running on overrides party affiliation and means that someone who says they’ll vote NDP or Liberal in public may actually vote Conservative in the privacy of the voting booth. This happened recently in the UK and about 10 or so years ago in Australia. In both cases the Conservative Parties won big and won on the ‘value’ question. Who was the guy who helped make that happen? Lynton Crosby. Both Mulcair and Trudeau (yes Scott, I said it) should be congratulated for taking the positions they have on the above issues, but they are playing into Harper’s hands.

    What does this mean?

    Another majority for Stephen Harper.

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    Joe says:

    Harper is the worst choice for PM except all the others. I think the problem isn’t so much the niqab as it is the people don’t like being spoken down to as the sanctimonious Trudeau and Mulcair are prone to do.

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    Domenico says:

    I agree with your points Alex. Trudeau has run a very NDP campaign. Mulcair has run a very poor campaign with some ill though out positions that put him in the middle between the Liberals and the Cons. Harper has found his wedge issue d’jour in Quebec. So yes we may be stuck with the bloated toupee wearer for four more.

    That being said there are still three weeks left in the campaign. But the Liberals need to start siphoning Quebec votes.

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      Jack D says:

      Yes and no.

      Yes, the Liberal’s have out NDP’d Thomas Mulcair. The NDP took bewildering positions on an array of issues and lack even the slightest cohesion in their platform; they’ve run a very poor campaign.

      No, the Liberal’s should not be focus on siphoning NDP Quebec support. NDP support in Quebec is based strongly in the nationalist vote, courting that base would be a kiss of death for the Liberal’s and they have nothing to gain from pandering to the fickle Quebecois. In fact, it would harm the support Trudeau has cultivated in seat-rich Ontario and contradict their own narrative on many issues (i.e. Niqab). The problem with the NDP is that they misunderstood the protest-nature of their Quebec support as largely pro-NDP. Liberals can offer many those anti-Harper voters a home to park their vote on October 19 but only without any concessions.

      Ultimately, the Liberal’s should remain consistent in their message. If they find Quebec taking to their narrative, fine. But right now, the collapse of the NDP would embolden the Liberal’s prospects outside francophone Canada as the change vote shifts.

      This is only my opinion, of course.

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    Matt says:

    I think the niqab has SOMETHING to do with it, but there has to be more.

    If it were just the niqab, would we not have expected the Liberal number in Quebec to fall as well seeing as how their position is similar to the NDP’s?

    But, as the graph shows, the Liberals are up 2 points.

    The again, both the CPC and Bloc who say the niqab should be removed during the oath of citizenship have both seen huge increases.

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    SD says:

    As Toronto Star columnist Tim Harper questions, “Where is passionate Tom? Where is the bold NDP?”


    I have seen and heard Tom speak at three rallies in Toronto. The first one was great. Tom spoke about being one of ten children in his family. The second rally was pretty good. Tom spoke about being one of ten children in his family. The third rally was OK. Tom spoke about being one of ten children in his family. Of course, for most of the time, Tom read off a teleprompter. When he spoke off-the-cuff, he sounded more passionate.

    There are three weeks left in the campaign. Mr. Mulcair needs to sound passionate while getting people back from debates about burqas and toward criticism of both Harper and Trudeau. Tonight during the Munk debate on foreign affairs, Mr. Mulcair should appear prime ministerial but also demonstrate some passion. Tomorrow, Tom should start hammer Harper and Trudeau. Don’t worry if the pundits start calling him “Angry Tom.” Nice Tom will not win the election.

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      BlueGritr says:

      Nice Tom will finish a distant third and sit on the sidelines as the NDP chooses its next leader.

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    ben burd says:

    “It looks like the nightmare is starting. The worst PM in modern Canadian history may get reelected because: a) progressives can’t get their act together;”

    If that is the case for people like myself who have slavishly supported the NDP, despite its centrist moves, look for support from dissatisfied libs and progressives to destroy the party apparatus and the apparatchiks who refused to form a cooperative solution before the election that would have remooved the worst PM in existence.

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    Maps Onburt says:

    I think Quebecers are realizing what Duceppe put best… “Does Tom ever talk to Thomas?” You can’t be all things to all people. Muclair (and Trudeau to a much lesser extent) have been very good at telling everyone what is wrong with Harper but they are less good at standing up for what they really believe in front of all audiences. Mulclair is for Energy East in the west but against it in Quebec. Trudeau is all for democratic reform but against any of his members having freedom to vote their conscience on issues surrounding a women’s right to choose. These guys are experts at sucking and blowing at the same time and as more details come out, the public’s distrust of Harper goes down. At least he’s never been afraid to say what he really believes (“This party will not take its position based on public opinion polls. We will not take a stand based on focus groups. We will not take a stand based on phone-in shows or householder surveys or any other vagaries of pubic opinion.”)

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    CanadianKate says:

    Mulcair’s statement on the niqab sounds good to me at first glance but then I keep thinking what is going to change for these women if they are Canadians? There’s no cost to the males of the family to keep oppressing them. It is only when they go so far as to murder ‘their’ women who try to assimilate (for example, the Shafia family) that there is a cost to them.

    How about allowing niqabs at Citizenship ceremonies but not allowing any male members of the woman’s family to become citizens? Then we aren’t further victimizing the women yet still standing behind the belief that this is not acceptable here and the men who insist on ‘encouraging’ the ways of the old country are not welcome until they change their views.

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      Vancouverois says:

      Yeah, right. Let’s punish these men, on the unproven assumption that they’re somehow accountable for the choices of others. 😛

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        CanadianKate says:

        I’ll agree I sound anti-male. Because you can’t see my facial expression over the internet, you have no idea how much I’m struggling with this. Which, I think is partly the point. Communication is so visual, eyes and mouth, that covering one’s face is cutting one off from effective communication.

        Seeing a woman’s face will not protect them from male dominated cultural oppression. But at least it stands up to that culture and says, “here is a line.”

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          dean sherratt says:

          Has anyone thought that it is the mother or mother in law that imposes the cultural traditions that the Niqab represents? Or Bride-burning in the case of South Asians. In the latter case it is often tied up with the issue of dowry and whether it has been sufficient. In the case of the Niqab, it is 50/50 that its rigor stems from older females than younger males.

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    Vancouverois says:

    Some of his Québec candidates likely don’t feel the same way. Don’t be surprised if you see some of them start to pop off about the Niqab issue as their fortunes slide.”

    As we know, many of them have been popping off about the niqab already. Boulerice, for one. Delisle for another. I don’t think it will help them, though. It just looks opportunistic and insincere.

    They may be better off sticking with the official position, just as they did with C-51 — while it looked like it would hurt them at first, public opinion shifted. Is there enough time for that to happen with the niqab “issue”? Maybe.

    Even if not, there’s still three weeks to go. That’s enough time for a different issue to come to the forefront of voter consciousness before election day.

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    MississaugaPeter says:

    Stated it in Day 56 …

    The NDP and the Lib campaigns are run by amateurs, the CON campaign by professionals. The fact that the Conservatives are still in it is proof of their superior campaign staff. With more money than the other two to spend in the final 3 weeks, the professionals will snatch a majority when they should have been clobbered to death when they were down in the first half of the election.

    Professionals know how to exploit issues that really should not matter.

    The only hope is that the Liberals and NDP finally come to some form of arrangement prior to the election. Otherwise, the CONS with less than 2 in 5 voters (under 40%) will get a majority while the other 3 in 5 voters ask “How did this happen again?”

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    Lance says:

    I wonder how the issue of the niqab and how Canadians believe and feel about it is going to dovetail with Trudeau’s remarks about his support for terrorists getting to keep their citizenship.

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    Jon Evan says:

    Sure the Quebec NDP polls are sliding due to the niqab anger. People are indignant at Mulcair belittling them and making them feel racist! He doesn’t understand that racism has nothing to do with how they feel!
    Mulcair as well will always be Mr. Angry. That he has cemented into Canadian minds at least those who have watched him in Question Period and who watched him in the recent French debate.
    Pretty haired JT is gaining from the NDP for now, but we will wait for the Conservative fear ads after TG day and then see!

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      doconnor says:

      Almost nobody sees themselves as racists. That’s for people who would go one step further then they would.

      Maybe once the anger and embarrassment subsides, they will see the logic of that Mulcair and Trudeau are saying. That’s what happened slowly with gay marriage and quickly with the secular charter.

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    Jim Curran says:

    TRUTH. It usually sets you free. In this case it increases your electoral fortunes. Trudeau, Goodale, McCallum et.al started this 3 weeks ago. Telling Canadians we are the only ones willing to tell Canadians the TRUTH. Frankly, I think it’s working. Harper can’t pull it off cuz you know he’s lying when he gets that shit eating grin on his face. Mulcair can’t pull it off because he has no clue what the truth is. So TRUTH is what’s really working.

    In addition, Justin, as the underdog he has always been portrayed as, has overperformed in these debates and shot to hell all those endless commercials that he just isn’t ready. He’s ready and people are seeing that more and more every debate. He will be the underdog again tonight but, like the boxer in him so often does, he will come out swinging. We’ll see if he surprisingly KO’s the competition again. Afterall, politics is a blood sport.

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    Jack D says:

    “The NDP may be returning to their traditional role: a parking lot between elections.”

    I remember someone surmising a few months ago that the NDP might end up doing a great job at convincing the electorate that they are a great opposition party, but fail to convince Canadians they are government material. I think the remark about the NDP being a place for voters to park their support between elections holds very true –once again.

    I’ve been saying this for quite some time, the NDP shouldn’t expect to be elected to government entirely on the basis of being a place to park your protest vote. Unfortunately for the orange team, they got caught up in their own elation and hubris after the Alberta election and have only themselves to blame for this corrosion of support.

    Whatever the reason, the NDP finds itself plunging. Since the beginning of this election they’ve seen themselves go from high-majority territory to being relegated to third-party status again. I guess they were to busy measuring to notice their own deflation.

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      Mike says:

      Because they were up in the polls they tried to run a “front runner” campaign. Anyone could have told them it was going to be impossible to go wire to wire as the front runner due to the length of this campaign.

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    Sean Cummings says:

    On Mulcair:

    1) No HOAG. None. NADA. Zip.
    2) Every time he opens his mouth, he sounds like he is mansplaining. People dislike being talked down to or being talked to like they’re infants.
    3) I have said since day one, the more people see/hear of Thomas Mulcair, the more people are going to dislike him. There is nothing at all to like about the guy.

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    Robert Paire says:

    No, it’s not about ‘issues’……. it’s more about ‘visage’…… he doesn’t look nor sound like a likely PM of all of Canada….. nor a ‘pur laine’ quebecois….. he’s more like a ‘mulroney’….. an Irish patate frite ……

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    ottlib says:

    The niqab issue is probably not the cause of the NDP slide but it is the trigger for it.

    This slide was inevitable. If anybody really believed that the NDP would be able to maintain its lofty lead in Quebec, a province with famously fickle voters who change their opinions of political leaders and parties as often as they change their socks, there were on a acid trip. The only question going into this campaign was how much they would slip and when. We may now have the answer.

    The NDP can take solace from three things though. 1) The niqab issue will not be the ballot question for that many voters. 2) Both the Conservatives and Bloc are fishing in that shallow pool so if the NDP can maintain substantial leads outside of it they should get some favourable splits. 3) The last Quebec election demonstrates the limited utility of running an election campaign based on curtailing the individual rights of Muslims.

    What should worry the NDP is this sudden softening of their Quebec polling numbers has negatively impacted their national numbers which may put them out of the running as the preferred agent of change for this election, a situation this poll (and many others) would seem to indicate is crucial.

    This same poll indicates that the desire for change of the poll respondents is 74%, which is extremely high. Further it indicates that 56% of respondents absolutely want change while only 18% of respondents absolutely do not want change. Further of the 18% of respondents who indicated that a change would be good, 31% indicated that they would vote Conservative is the election were held tomorrow. Since this election began Stephen Harper has thrown a veritable herd of dead cows at his base (Not literally of course) almost exclusive of anything else. Maybe this poll provides us with some insight as to why. My reading from it is the Conservative base is not nearly as solid as many would have us believe and that the desire for change is almost overwhelming, penetrating even those who identify themselves as Conservative supporters.

    What should worry both the Conservatives and the NDP is the perception that the only party that can bring about change in this election is the Liberals. As long as the perception that both the NDP and the Liberals could represent that change the Conservatives and the NDP were in good shape. If the Liberals become the default party of change then things could get ugly for both the Conservatives and the NDP rather quickly.

    One last comment on the poll. The leadership numbers published in the poll for Stephen Harper are in Michael Ignatieff territory. With such a strong desire for change and Ignatieff leadership numbers I am having a hard time identifying Stephen Harper’s path to victory.

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    Felipe Morales says:

    Steven Harper’s mastery of the French language pays off yet again! He had a brilliant performance. French discourse rewards concise sentences. Harper did that. Mulcair rambled and ruffled. Trudeau appeared to be translating from English and did not seem organized. In what I consider Harper’s “coup de maître” was his niqab “riposte” to Gilles Duceppe. That rejoined the concise with the emotional and personal. He reached the average Quebecker with that single line. Canadian campaigns should be 3 weeks long. We’ve had a very long pre-season. The playoffs start now! As a Quebecker, I think francophones are willing to give Harper a chance after this performance, although some may flock back to the Block and the Liberals

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