Election 2008: Harper’s drive for majority stalls in Quebec

Conservative party leader Stephen Harper’s dream of winning enough seats in Quebec to propel him into an early majority government may have fallen short thanks to a stronger than expected showing by the Bloc Quebecois in the province.

Poll results published at the Elections Canada website (11 p.m. EST) show the Bloc Quebecois leading with 59 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 24 and the Conservatives at 15 per cent. These numbers parallel a Harris/Decima poll released on the eve of Tuesday’s election, which predicted a Bloc Quebecois lead.

According to Concordia University journalism professor Ross Perigoe, the results so far are an encouraging sign for Quebecers.

“We think it’s the end of the Bloc Quebecois before every election,” Perigoe said. “However, they continually do better and prove stronger each time.”

Perigoe, who drove all the way from Mississippi to vote in Quebec, stated that Quebecers want to ensure their voices are fairly represented. He said Quebecers believe that a Conservative majority in the province would make this impossible.

“These results are a reflection of how people in the province feel,” he said. “Quebecers know that their point-of-view can be appropriately represented by the Bloc Quebecois and not the Conservatives.”

Meanwhile, the riding of Saint-Laurent-Cartierville re-elected Liberal party leader Stéphane Dion, despite his low popularity in the province.

“He’s not well liked here but, again, Quebecers preferred a Liberal candidate to a Conservative,” Perigoe said.

Justin Trudeau, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, remains in a tight race in his riding of Papineau, with 42 per cent of the votes, against Bloc Quebecois candidate Vivian Barbot, who has 37 per cent.

Perigoe believes that Trudeau is in a “lion’s den” in this race, with a good possibility of victory.

However, as the Bloc Quebecois maintained its stronghold in the province, it is evident that Harper’s dream of a majority government will have to come from gains in central or western Canada.