Monday, June 06, 2005

No alarms and no surprises...

I was in Montreal over the weekend for the Tour de L'Ile , an annual bicycle ride through the city with 30,000 participants. This was probably the best weather and most interesting route the Tour has had in the 11 years I've done it. The highlight was bicycling through Lafarge Canada Inc.'s crushed stone quarry in Montréal Est, the last active quarry on the Island of Montreal. An N.D.G. boy who has rarely ventured east of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, I was unaware that Montreal ever had quarries, though in fact there were once six. (We also passed by the old, inactive Miron quarry, which is now run by the city of Montreal as le Complexe environnemental Saint-Michel.)

Anyway, the news everyone was talking about while pedalling was Bernard Landry's resignation as leader of the Parti Québécois... All the coverage has presented Landry's decision as "unexpected" or a "surprise." Perhaps I didn't the I didn't find his decision at all surprising because I had read Josée Legault's column in the Montreal Gazette the day before. It's here, but you'll have to scroll about halfway down the page to find it. The important observations were in her last few parargraphs:
[The extremely-unpopular Quebec] Liberals will not go gently into the night after only one mandate. Charest is now in his third year and support keeps going down. So I'll repeat the prediction I made here on April 15: Charest will leave, perhaps this fall, followed by a quick leadership race in which some quality contenders would get prime-time coverage for a few months.

Be it Philippe Couillard, Nathalie Normandeau or Marc-Andre Blanchard, the bright, young, ambitious Liberal president, the next leader could then go into an early election, say next spring, to ask for a new mandate for a new post-Charest vision.

If that happens, the PQ will have no time to have its own race and renew its vision and leadership.

With Charest out and Landry still in, PQ members could find the political dynamics to be a lot more challenging than they are now.
In other words, the best thing for the PQ and the sovereignty movement was for Landry to step down now, whether he had the absolute confidence of his party or not.

Was Legault the only pundit to figure that out? Or is it just that, given the recent behaviour of Canadian pols, everyone was shocked that a politician would put his loyalty to party and cause above his personal ambition?

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