It occurred to me today that this is a great week for the politically observant, filled with many interesting stories from all sectors of politics: the local, the provincial, the national and the international. Let's look at the big four this week:
1) Quebec Elections
Unsurprisingly, the Parti Quebecois and its leader Pauline Marois, were victorious in the Quebec election, ending nine years of Liberal rule and giving the sovereignty movement its first good news in a long, long time. What was surprising was that those same Liberals came within four seats of retuning to power, albeit with a minority mandate. But what was even more surprising was that within moments of claiming victory, a man named Richard Henry Bain walked into the PQ's victory rally with an assault gun and a message, “Les anglais se reveillent ... There’s going to be f----ing payback,” he said.
First of all, what is it with this thinking lately were everyone thinks they can resolve their issues with the barrel of the gun? The last couple of months have been brutal for this. While we ponder the answer, we'll go back to the politics.
So Marois, now the first female premier in Quebec (and currently one of five female premiers throughout the federation), got a mandate, but what kind of mandate is it? The PQ secured 31.9 per cent of the popular vote and 54 seats, while Jean Charest and his Liberals won 31.2 per cent of the vote and 50 seats. With a .7 per cent difference means four extra seats being another reason to look at election reform, any concern, hysterical or otherwise, that another sovereignty vote is coming soon is an over-reaction.
Aside from support for sovereignty being at historic lows, the election of the PQ was more a rebuke of the Liberals, or as Doug Saunders called it in the Globe and Mail, "Plan B." The PQ has been elected and instead of pushing for independence, they'll be pushing from more power. And that will be the real struggle for this PQ government: going to a Prime Minister with no time for their politics and policies and asking for his help in giving them more control. Can you imagine Stephen Harper wilfully giving up any control? Especially to Quebec? Especially to Pauline Marois and the PQ? Unlikely. But it will be a good show.
As for Jean Charest, he had a good run. He stepped down today saying he had no regrets, and that maybe true, but as one of the few Liberal politicians in this country still standing in power (until last night), I pondered on Twitter yesterday if we were seeing the slow end of the Liberal Party. I still wonder that today.
2) Ford in the Witness Seat
For once, Rob Ford finds himself for actual political reasons and not for sticking his foot in his mouth. In a Toronto court today, Ford was questioned about a vote in council back when he was still a councillor where he failed to recuse himself when he voted to let himself off the hook for failing to repay $3,150 in improper donations to his football foundation, thus violating the Municipal Conflict-of-Interest Act (MCIA).
Ford had raised the money using his city hall letterhead, resulting in the vote coming to council. The lawsuit was brought by one of Ford's political enemies, clearly seeing a weak spot in the Ford dam that could be easily manipulated to create a deluge, wiping out the small village of Fordtown that the Mayor's been carefully, if not so skillfully, building these last two years. Forget that despite Ford's conflicted vote, he still had to pay back the money in the end, if the court rules he violated the law it means bye, bye Mayor Ford.
And although Rob Ford has promised to run again, he may be barred from putting his hat in the ring for up to seven years. Now I'm not a fan of Rob Ford or his policies, but I rather see him lose his office at the ballot box than in the court room.
This lawsuit is pure politics, but it will still be interesting to see how it turns out, and what happens next...
3) The Democratic National Convention
This week, the Democrats counter the Republicans' week long celebration of family values, tax cuts and attempts at mock diversity with an argument as to why Barack Obama, having let so many people down since his election in 2008, should be given four more years in the White House.
Last night, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick made a compelling argument about how Obama's hardly been complacent during the last four years, and has actually made great strides on a number of important issues. Speaking of powerful, the mere presence of Illinois congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth made a statement. The war vet and double amputee walked out on stage on her artificial legs and spoke powerfully about her American experience.
More importantly though these two politicians represent some of the best arguments against Romney and the Republicans. Patrick outlined Romney's failures when he was Massachusetts governor, from his apparent repudiation of his own healthcare reform to the fact that the state stood 47 out of 50 in job creation during an economic boom. Seeing as how Romney's sole political office was his one term as Governor in Massachusetts, that seems more of a hit on Romney for Democrats than attacking his experience with Bain Capital. The man can't govern, in other words.
As for Duckworth, she's running against Joe Walsh, a man who believes so strongly in economic stability that he shirked on a $20,000 bill for his 2010 campaign manager and owes nearly $118,000 to his ex-wife in child support. War hero versus dead beat dad? No contest, right? Which is why in America it will probably be a contest.
But the onus will be on Obama tomorrow night. Can he make the case for four more years? We'll soon find out.
4) Ontario By-Elections
Something interesting has happened. A poll this week suggested that NDP candidate Catherine Fife will walk to victory in tomorrow's by-election. Such an upset would be huge because it would dash Dalton McGuinty's gamble for a majority, and it would further imply that Tim Hudak may be stumbling as PC leader. The other by-election in Vaughan seems to be a forgone victory for the Liberals, so all eyes tomorrow night are on Kitchener-Waterloo. If Fife wins that's a huge win for the whole NDP, and a major body blow for the Liberals and PCs; McGuinty for overreaching and Hudak for not being able to take advantage of McGuinty's horrible circumstances. The showdown in K-W just might be a game changer.