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General

O Politician, behold The Shape of the Future

Posted April 18, 2014 by CuriosityCat

So, you’re a politician? You want to lead our country into a better future? You think the past cannot be relied on as an accurate predicator of the future of the country’s economy? You think the middle class deserve a better break than they’ve been given for the past decade or two?

And you think Canada definitely has to move away from being simple hewers of wood and drawers of water, and move to the forefront of the next few waves of technological advances?
Want some solid, take-it-to-the-bank, realistic ideas about where the most advanced economies are heading over the next few decades, and what type of massive changes will take place in our industries as a result?
Then read this article about a must-read study by Diginova of the future, and download the Diginova study itself for intense homework over the next few months.
This is what Diginova says their mission is:
The purpose of the Diginova coordinating work is to determine the current status and assess and promote the expected potential of Digital Fabrication for the future of materials research and manufacturing in Europe, taking the Diginova scope as a starting point. We will map key material innovation and application domains, identify key technology challenges and new business opportunities. We will identify and connect main stakeholders through establishment of innovation networks centered around concrete identified business cases, to determine the added value and feasible routes to commercialization.
The organization has a respectable parentage, and has produced a startlingly provocative study of the world-to-come.
This is what Dario Borghino says in his article on the Diginova study:
Diginova, a consortium of European companies and universities, has proposed a roadmap for how the manufacturing industry could fully benefit from the digital era over the next two decades. According to this vision, we are moving toward manufacturing highly customizable, on-demand goods that are locally produced from raw materials and globally distributed digital designs. This could lead to extreme product customization, decentralization of production and, perhaps surprisingly, much lower costs of everyday goods ranging from smartphones to medicine.
And that’s just for starters.
You can get a copy of Diginova’s study of the future from its site:
You can also get one from the above article.
If you know anyone remotely connected to a political party in Canada, then do them a favour by sending them a copy of this postbetter still, send them a copy of the Diginova study itself.
If we don’t have political leaders who are able to prepare us for this coming industrial revolution, then our middle class is about to get their butts kicked far more painfully than last time.
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Canadian Politics

Alberta Diary: In one day, the ground shifts in Alberta politics in ways unexpected, sometimes uplifting, sometimes troubling

Posted April 18, 2014 by David Climenhaga

On March 23, Lewis Cardinal became the first nominated federal NDP candidate in Canada for the expected 2015 election. (Photo by Dave Cournoyer, used with permission.) Yesterday he stepped aside in the face of undisclosed health problems. Below: Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson.

What a strange day it was yesterday, at times uplifting, at times profoundly depressing, and at times just disorienting.

In the morning, Alberta suddenly dropped most aspects of its official homophobia. This less formal kind will continue to longer for a spell, of course, but as an issue for most Albertans it’s done like the family’s (Read more…)

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Canadian Politics

Celebrate Young Feminists in Vancouver on April 13

Posted April 5, 2014 by Anonymous

by Jarrah Hodge It’s  not uncommon for me to hear older activists express a combination of relief and disbelief when I openly identify as feminist. There seems to be a feeling out there that my generation, the “millennials”, aren’t embracing feminism. While there are certainly women of all ages who don’t identify as feminists and […]

The post Celebrate Young Feminists in Vancouver on April 13 appeared first on Gender Focus.

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Europe

Tony Blair and the Corporatization of Social Democracy

Posted March 19, 2014 by Bruce Livesey

Tony Blair, by any sensible yardstick, is a douchebag. Recently, The Guardian, under the headline “Toxic”, detailed Blair’s “downward spiral”. This included the revelation that he may have been having an affair with Wendi Murdoch, the now ex-wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Blair was once good pals with Murdoch and Wendi and is godparent […]

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General

Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable

Posted March 18, 2014 by Norm Farrell

Finley Peter Dunne is credited with the words above. I have a feeling this direction will be in the minds of more than a few politicos a year or so from now.That’s because Monday night, John Horgan entered the race to lead the BC New Democratic Party. …

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General

Quebec election: The real ballot box question

Posted March 12, 2014 by CuriosityCat
PQ lobster trap for unwitting Quebecers

Try as they might, the PQ cannot direct the definition of the ballot question in the upcoming provincial election into fields of their choosing. They would rather talk about their Charter of Values, which has given them a good crack at Francophone votes to boost them into a majority government position. Or the bright prospects for a Quebec economy, with debt reduced and business booming.

But every time they try, those pesky journalists keep asking about the PQ’s plans to launch a permament campaign as a majority government, disguised as a White Paper process to examine what is best for Quebec – stay in Canada or separate.
And so the referendum has become the ballot box question:

The border comments followed Marois to another campaign stop, prompting her to agree with a reporter’s assertion that an independent Quebec would not be unlike the European Union, where there is free movement of citizens.

“That’s what it means, but that’s not to say there wouldn’t be a (Quebec) citizenship and, as such, a passport,” Marois said.

Couillard, meanwhile, launched his strongest anti-sovereigntist message yet on Tuesday, with the federalist leader accusing the PQ of hurting Quebec with its constant musings about referendums and separation.

“The choice is clear,” he said. “Do you want a government that is going to focus on a referendum and the separation of Quebec or do you want a government that is going to concentrate on the economy, jobs, health care and education?”

Ms Marois wished the White Paper process to be safely on the back burner until she achieved her majority government, but it just keeps coming back, helped no end by her unwitting stirring of the referendum pot.
It seems she just cannot wait until after the election to start her nation-building exercise.
What she clearly will expect once the referendum is launched, is the replacement of the confederation of Canada by a new one, consisting of ROC and Quebec, linked through something similar to the European Union, itself a slow-motion nation-in-the-making event.
So the leader of the PQ expects to have a seat on the Bank of Canada (but no veto power over its decisions); to retain the Canadian dollar (rather than have a brand new Quebec currency that could be too vulnerable); to have relatively free cross-border access into and out of Quebec and ROC; to have full control of all events and all peoples within Quebec’s current borders, including over all economic matters, such as energy (pipelines crossing its territory on the way to the Maritimes; electricity grids doing the same; water in rivers etc.). Quebeckers might have dual citizenship (Canadian – or rather, ROC, and Quebec, although she is a little vague on this).
A lot of this smacks more of sovereignty-association rather than of independence, but Ms Marois prefers not to get into such minutiae. For the moment. First, get the majority; then launch the PR exercise known as the White Paper; then select the option she favours; then present it to the people in Quebec in some kind of single or multiple stage referendum(s).
And, of course, all decisions on the referenda would be resolved by 50% plus one vote (making a decision by a majority of Franchophones far more likely to reach such a low threshold, as the PQ well know). And, of course, Thomas Mulcair and his NDP have agreed with this 50% plus 1 vote decision, despite the Supreme Court of Canada disagreeing and requiring a substantial majority.
And, of course, despite the events that are taking place with the breakup of the Ukraine (Crimea hiving off under the attraction and direction of Russia), the PQ assume that everything will remain tranquil in the province of Quebec during these events. The territorial integrity of Quebec is assumed as a given.
The Ukraine is finding that once you start tinkering with major political changes, Pandora’s Box is opened, and nobody can control that box.

The Question for Thomas Mulcair and the NDP

Do Thomas Mulcair and the NDP agree with the basic assumption that no part of Quebec has any moral or legal right to hold their own referendum to see whether 50% plus 1 inhabitants of, say, lands now occupied by First Nations, might wish to declare their independence of the newly independent Quebec, and remain part of Canada, or become independent entities themselves?
The PQ’s prospects for a majority government have taken a sharp turn downwards, now that Ms Marois has opened Pandora’s Box. All bets are now off. She should have stuck to the setting of the PQ lobster trap, but perhaps this time the lobster trap of the PQ will not work …
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General

Quebec: The separatist Premier who is committed and not committed

Posted March 8, 2014 by CuriosityCat
The Impartial Premier – Trust Me

Premier Pauline Marois believes she can have her cake and eat it, too. So she is sucking and blowing at the same time about whether a vote for her Parti Quebecois is really also a vote to start the journey to yet another referendum on independence for Quebec.

It seems that she believes that if she is careful with her choice of words, she can achieve two things – square the circle, blow hot and cold, turn black into white – at the same time, without anyone noticing.
First Marois’ Open Agenda:
In today’s Globe & Mail, Rheal Seguin and Les Perreaux neatly outline the contradictory courses that the Premier wishes to take:
In a campaign during which Pauline Marois would prefer to focus on issues such as jobs, the economy and Quebec’s cultural identity, the Parti Québécois Leader is compelled to explain her hesitation about holding another referendum on sovereignty.
Ms. Marois insisted she was not going to be rushed into holding another referendum if her party formed a majority government in the April 7 vote. But she added that she will launch public hearings on Quebec’s political future to gauge whether there is a desire for another referendum.
“We want to keep the agenda open,” Ms. Marois said when asked by reporters about her referendum strategy. “If a referendum is needed, we will take the time to stop and listen to people’s opinions. And if we find that it is not relevant to do it, we won’t.”
Tut-tutting former premiers

Premier Marois wishes to fight this election on the economy, and especially on her beloved Charter of Values ballot box question. She wants to shelve any talks about a referendum for independence during this election, because, as she puts it, she is not committed to a referendum, nor is she committed not to have one:
Ms. Marois refused to make a firm commitment to hold a referendum on sovereignty if she wins a majority government. But she quickly added she will weigh her options “at the opportune time” after holding public hearings. She refused to say at what point during a PQ mandate she would conduct the hearings.
“We aren’t going to do anything behind closed doors; we aren’t going to do it in the dark. We will need a consensus. … There is no commitment to hold a referendum but there is also no commitment not to hold one,” the PQ Leader said.
We can paraphrase her argument as: A referendum if necessary, but not necessarily a referendum. This kind of double talk worked in Canada many years ago, when the mantra was Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription.
Will this double-speak work this time?
Not likely.
Her earlier statements about holding public hearings clearly indicate that she is prepared to trigger the race to a referendum if she obtains a majority. For her, the public hearings would simply be a means to an end. Consider these words she used:
In a campaign-style speech Wednesday night, Premier Pauline Marois spoke of winning a majority and rekindling the Parti Québécois goal of making Quebec a country, delivering her first election promise: “a white paper on the future of Quebec.”
“I am determined to get there,” she said at the opening of her speech to about 300 of the party faithful.
And wrapping it up she said, “We are going to win.
“We are going to make Quebec a country, our country.”
The white paper would ask which choice is more risky for Quebec? Remaining a Canadian province? Or becoming an independent, French-speaking country?
There would be a new referendum on leaving Canada, the premier added, but only when Quebecers want one.
Parti Quebecois – A party with two personalities:
Even among the leaders of the Parti Quebecois there are different interpretations of her referendum strategy. While Marois expects the white paper process to result in detailed investigations of each of the options open to Quebec, some of her ministers clearly indicated that the white paper was really an exercise to promote sovereignity.
Janus: New Parti Quebecois logo during the White Paper

The Minister of Higher Education claimed that the white paper exercise will be a year of “pedagogy”, with the subject being taught being sovereignty, and the white paper being the means to put before the citizens of Quebec plans for the country of Quebec.
Alexandre Cloutier, the Chief Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, was equally blunt: the white paper would highlight the failures of federalism.
And Premier Marois said she and her party would be playing two roles during the year-long white paper process. As head of government, her role would be to guide the debate, making sure that all assessments of the best options in the future (what was best for “Quebec” in 2014, 2015, 2016 and thereafter) were tabled.
But she expected the Parti Quebecois to actively promote sovereignty during this white paper process, and to demonstrate the relevance of this option to citizens of the province.
Clearly, the Premier expects voters in this election to buy into the idea that during the year-long white paper hearings, she will act in a neutral fashion, as premier of the province, while her party (which would, of course, include her ministers and all elected MPAs, as well as the party members and activists in all walks of life) would be diving into the fray, pushing the advantages of secession.
That sounds an awful lot to The Cat as the majority PQ government pushing secession for 12 months from day one while the premier floats above the fray, pretending to be an impartial head of state.

So much for keeping an open agenda during the white paper process.

If that is not an active campaign to promote secession, starting in about six weeks’ time, then I am a monkey’s uncle. And I have a bridge to sell to you, along with some lovely beachside swamp land in the Florida everglades.
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General

Dog in the Manger Mulcair Won’t Back Federalists in Quebec Election

Posted March 5, 2014 by The Mound of Sound

He claims to be the leader of the official opposition for Canada but Tom Mulcair says he’ll stay neutral in the Quebec provincial election.  Why won’t he support the federalist side?  Does he think the federal parties should steer clear on so…

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CBC

Liberals triple support in Lethbridge: Liberals at 24%, NDP at 14%, Conservatives at 38%

Posted March 3, 2014 by vsp

Something is happening in Lethbridge. According to a group out of Lethbridge College the Liberals under Trudeau have jumped from 8.38% (2011) to 24% for the area of Lethbridge. Provincially, Raj Sherman’s Liberals have jumped from 14.7% (2012) to 18% in Lethbridge-East, a point ahead of the Wildrose and the clear alternative compared to the […]

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General

Ontario Byelections: The change that really counts

Posted February 14, 2014 by CuriosityCat
It seems that the leaders of all three poltical parties in the province of Ontario sense that voters want change.  Prime Minister Wynne, leading a minority Liberal government, was rejected by voters in the two byelections, but says change is wanted:
Real Change Wynne?

After writing off the byelections as “skirmishes” that aren’t indicative of how things will go in a general election, Wynne vowed that the Liberals will do better whenever the campaign is held.
“I know people are looking for change in this province,” she said. “Well I’m the change. My plan is the change. My team is the change, and that’s the change we’re going to take into the next election.”

Opposition leader Horwatch, whose provincial NDP party wrested a seat from the Liberals, says change is wanted:
Real change Horwath?

Horwath says the byelection results sent a clear message that people are not happy with the Liberals, but adds she is not focused on a possible election.
“Families are worried about jobs, the cost of daily life and their health care system.” Horwath said. “They hear the same old ideas coming from the same old parties and they know it’s time for a change.”

Even Hudak, the leader of the provincial Conservatives, who has a habit of shooting holes in his feet every now and then, says change is wanted:

“This evening’s results prove that the people of this province want change,” Hudak said in Thornhill. “They sent the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals a clear message (that) they want leadership that will take decisive action, implement a plan to balance the budget and create jobs.”

All three are right, and all three are wrong.
Voters in Ontario want change, true. 
The change they want is a government that actually does something to arrest the failings of the past 20 or more years, when the political and business elite of Ontario sold out  the middle class workers by allowing the good paying manufacturing jobs to be outsourced to countries with low health policies, little real union representation, low wages and little worker protection. They did this without planning for and implementing changes in the nature of the workforce, and the work to be done, in Ontario. The result was the trashing of living standards for Ontarians, without any replacements.
Instead of good jobs, that allowed families to send kids to college or university or trade schools, we have a province that is humbled, driven to its knees, lacking hope and lacking means to give its citizens a fair shake. McJobs are not the same as real jobs. Ask anyone who works in the service industries: they do not pay the same, have the same benefits, and offer as much hope for a better future as real jobs do.
And what did the politicians of the major parties do during these lost decades? Fail to provide the province and the country with the foresight and leadership that Canadians have a right to.
The three parties in Ontario are also failing to do that, right now.
A major part of the problems is the democratic deficit in our legislatures and our parliament. The voices of Canadians are not really listened to, and their votes (which are supposed to ensure that they are listened to), are depreciated by our electoral system and parliamentary deficits.
If Premier Wynne is serious about listening to the people’s pleas for meaningful change, she can do something today that will be a giant step forward in this. She can cut a deal with NDP leader Horwath to (1) formally institute a modified form of proportional representation in Ontario, to take effect within 12 months, (2) delay any election call before that happens, (3) concentrate on the preparation of a major economic plan designed to replace the McJobs with real jobs over the next two decades, and (4) agree that the Liberal Party and NDP will act in concert to implement the major steps in such a plan, starting after the next government is sworn in, if not before.
Let’s see if our politicians are serious about our desire for meaningful change, instead of just paying lip service to it.
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General

Dutch Disease, Prices and Wages in Saskatchewan

Posted January 26, 2014 by Erin Weir

Jim Stanford recently pointed out that many of the conservative economists who had defended the overvalued loonie have quickly shifted to applauding its depreciation. The Government of Saskatchewan may be making a similar conversion on the road to Damascus. When federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair expressed concern about Dutch disease, premier Brad Wall denied that […]

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Bloc Québécois

Même craqué, le Bloc est utile

Posted January 15, 2014 by Claude Dupras

Depuis sa fondation, le Bloc Québécois, parti politique canadien, a toujours représenté exclusivement à la Chambre des Communes canadienne les opinions politiques des séparatistes québécois. Même si je n’ai jamais été un partisan de ce parti, je reconnais d’emblée que maintes fois ses prises de positions reflétaient l’intérêt de tous les Québécois.

Le Bloc fut créé en 1991 par le ministre progressiste-conservateur démissionnaire Lucien Bouchard, suite à une mésentente de ce dernier avec le premier ministre (PM) canadien Brian Mulroney en rapport avec l’accord du Lac Meech sur le rapatriement de la constitution canadienne de Londres.

Ce n’était pas la première fois qu’était proposée l’idée d’un parti national composé exclusivement de Québécois à Ottawa, pour défendre les intérêts du Québec. Dès 1926, l’Action française avait propagé une telle proposition sans succès. Plus tard, en 1942, en pleine guerre mondiale, lors du débat sur la conscription obligatoire de jeunes Canadiens dans l’armée canadienne pour aller au front en Europe, le Bloc Populaire fut créé au Québec pour s’opposer à cette mesure. Son chef était Maxime Raymond. Il ne gagna aucun siège à l’élection fédérale.

Par contre, son aile provinciale dirigée par André Laurendeau présenta, en 1944, des candidats dans tous les comtés contre le gouvernement libéral d’Adélard Godbout. Elle accusa ce dernier de marcher, main dans la main, avec le gouvernement fédéral libéral de Mackenzie King qui, disait-elle, favorisait la conscription. La popularité de Laurendeau et de son parti connut un bond de popularité dans les milieux nationalistes, au point que quelques curés n’hésitèrent pas à dire en chaire à leurs paroissiens : « Je ne peux vous dire pour qui voter, mais votez en bloc ». C’est l’Union Nationale de Maurice Duplessis, défait en 1939, qui gagna finalement l’élection. Le Bloc Populaire ne remporta que 4 sièges et le parti disparut, quelques années plus tard, suite à la démission de Laurendeau.

Dans les années ’60, le « Ralliement des Créditistes », parti du Québec résolument fédéraliste et de droite, de Réal Caouette, gagna plusieurs sièges au Québec dans les régions rurales et devint jusqu’au début des années ’80 le porte-parole, à la Chambre des Communes, du mécontentement et du nationalisme des Québécois.

Après plusieurs décennies de déceptions et d’échecs, le Bloc Québécois fit élire 54 députés à l’élection fédérale de 1993. De plus, à la surprise générale, le parti se classa deuxième avec le plus grand nombre de sièges à la Chambre des Communes et devint, par la force des choses, l’Opposition officielle du gouvernement du Canada. Ce fut grâce à l’intelligence, les convictions profondes, l’éloquence et le charisme de Lucien Bouchard qui charmèrent les Québécois.

En fin de janvier 1996, Bouchard démissionna pour remplacer Jacques Parizeau au poste de PM du Québec et le Bloc a choisi Michel Gauthier comme son deuxième chef. Après un an, il fut remplacé par Gilles Duceppe. Habile, intelligent et bon politicien, Duceppe maintint le Bloc fort et majoritaire au Québec jusqu’à l’élection fédérale de 2011 où il connut une débandade spectaculaire et perdit tous ses députés, sauf quatre. Duceppe démissionna. Son successeur, Daniel Paillé, vient de démissionner à son tour, après un an à la barre du parti et le Bloc est redevenu orphelin.

Depuis, un débat sur la pertinence du Bloc Québécois sur la scène politique canadienne fait rage au Québec : « Un parti de séparatistes québécois est-il utile et nécessaire à Ottawa ? ». Ces derniers jours, l’ex-PM québécois Bernard Landry et l’ex-député péquiste Yves Michaud ont dit publiquement NON et ont demandé la mort officielle du Bloc Québécois. D’autres s’y opposent et prétendent que la place qu’occupe le parti doit être comblée parce qu’elle est une tribune pour ceux et celles qui veulent vanter les mérites de la séparation du Québec du Canada.

Je ne suis pas séparatiste. Je ne peux me résoudre à laisser le Canada aux autres. Mon pays est si vaste, si riche, si beau et si plein d’opportunités pour mes descendants que je me dois de tout faire pour leur conserver.

Par contre, l’idée que le Bloc demeure à Ottawa ne me déplait pas. Pas fort, mais avec un représentation minimum. Je ne crois pas, dorénavant possible, qu’il obtienne des victoires aussi éclatantes que celles obtenues par Bouchard et Duceppe et c’est une bonne chose. De plus, je crois important que plusieurs députés québécois issus de partis fédéraux traditionnels soient élus et qu’un bon nombre deviennent ministres du gouvernement. Ce que le Bloc ne peut faire. Mais qu’une dizaine de députés bloquistes soient élus à la prochaine élection me semble positif. Un tel résultat aura l’avantage de maintenir sur la scène nationale le débat sur les idées d’une bonne partie de la population québécoise. De plus, il servira à renseigner les députés des autres provinces des demandes du Québec. La démocratie ne peut qu’en gagner.

Avec le temps, j’ai remarqué que le débat de politique fédérale fait partie de nos discussions lorsqu’il y a au pouvoir à Ottawa un gouvernement avec un PM québécois (comme ceux de Trudeau, Chrétien et Mulroney) ou un gouvernement composé de plusieurs ministres québécois compétents (comme celui de Joe Clark) ou encore une opposition comme celle du Bloc qui défend ardemment des positions qui sont au cœur de plusieurs de nos débats locaux. Depuis l’élection du gouvernement du Parti Conservateur de Stephen Harper, dans lequel le Québec est peu représenté, je regrette que les Québécoises et Québécois n’entendent moins parlé de la politique fédérale et n’y apportent, par conséquent, moins d’attention que par le passé.

Le Nouveau Parti Démocratique a connu une grande victoire en 2011 et a balayé le Québec. Il est devenu l’opposition officielle. Malheureusement, l’inexpérience de ses nombreux députés québécois ne l’a pas vraiment aidé avec le résultat que les échos des débats de la colline parlementaire à Ottawa nous parviennent à peine. Et cela, même si son chef, Thomas Mulcair, fait un job du tonnerre comme chef de l’opposition, selon tous les observateurs avertis.

Face au nouveau, jeune et charismatique chef libéral, Justin Trudeau, qui a redynamisé son parti; face à la force politique que conserve le NPD; face au potentiel des 850 000 votes qu’a remportés le Bloc à la dernière élection et face au 12% de votes qu’obtiendront les Conservateurs, j’en conclus qu’il est probable que le vote au Québec, à la prochaine élection fédérale, sera réparti entre tous les partis si aucun ne prend un élan hors de l’ordinaire. Une telle situation pourra aider les candidats du Bloc à se faufiler, à plusieurs endroits, entre les autres candidats et à regagner ainsi une dizaine de comtés dans les régions où le parti a toujours été très populaire.

Le Bloc a besoin d’un nouveau chef avec une expérience politique et de bons candidats. Il y a quelques jours, Richard LeHir, ex-ministre de Parizeau, a annoncé être prêt à devenir candidat du Bloc à la prochaine élection. Il a affirmé son désir de se présenter contre Justin Trudeau dans le comté de Papineau, à Montréal. Le Hir est un bon candidat mais il perdra sa chemise contre Trudeau dans ce comté cosmopolite où un séparatiste n’a aucune chance de l’emporter surtout contre le chef du parti libéral. S’il ne vise qu’à faire du bruit et attirer l’attention, il y a des possibilités qu’il atteigne son but, mais ce n’est pas certain. Mais s’il est vraiment sérieux et veut être élu pour aider le Bloc, qu’il choisisse un comté aux caractéristiques favorables pour un candidat de sa trempe et de sa couleur politique. Ce ne sera pas facile mais, comme je l’ai expliqué précédemment, un bon candidat avec une bonne organisation peut gagner de justesse un comté pour son parti à la prochaine campagne électorale, même s’il s’agit du Bloc Québécois.

Claude Dupras

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