Quebecers do it differently

Well, it’s all over but the calls for resignation. I suppose it’s time to break it down:

Winners: Oddly enough, because the situation is entirely different in that other solitude, the Liberals have successfully held their base in Quebec. They’re on their way to gaining a few seats (Ahuntsic, Brossard, Papineau) They gained a seat in Papineau and, most importantly, they haven’t been marginalized as a legitimate federalist alternative in the province. Now, whether they can regroup elsewhere in the country with Stéphane Dion at the helm is a whole other matter. But the widely-expected collapse didn’t happen.

Losers: There’s simply no way around it—the Conservatives dropped the ball in Quebec. Harper needed to solidify the base he’d nurtured in Quebec City and the central parts of the province, and start growing elsewhere, like in the north and in the more distant suburbs of Montreal. But there are simply no gains to be found anywhere. His Quebec caucus remains unimaginably weak and there aren’t many weapons left in his arsenal: The nation is “recognized”; the fiscal imbalance is “fixed”; asymmetrical federalism is alive and well; and the Conservatives’ rhetoric is all but permanently Quebec-ified. So, what now?

Participation prizes: The Bloc retains the vast majority of its seats, but its relevance was undermined at the start of the campaign, and its (slightly) shrunken share of the vote isn’t likely to silence Duceppe’s critics. As for the NDP, it couldn’t afford to lose Outremont—and it didn’t. But the votes that drifted from the Bloc were pocketed by the Liberals, meaning Quebecers still don’t view Layton and co. as a credible left-leaning alternative.

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