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Quebec votes: CAQ’s Legault holds lead as vote nears despite ‘difficult’ campaign

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MONTREAL — Polls show the Coalition Avenir Québec in position to coast to a second majority government Monday, but political observers say there is still plenty to watch for on election night — in particular the profound political shift reflected in the battle for official Opposition.

Thierry Giasson, director of the political science department at Université Laval, says CAQ Leader François Legault has maintained his lead despite lacklustre debate performances and a “catastrophic” campaign in which he struggled to defend his record.

“It wasn’t a good campaign for François Legault on pretty much every front,” he said in a recent interview. Legault was forced to apologize twice during the campaign: once for comments linking immigration to “violence” and “extremism,” and again after stating that the problems that led to an Atikamekw woman’s 2020 death at a Joliette hospital had been “resolved.”

His comments drew a rebuke from Joyce Echaquan’s husband and the late woman’s community, who noted that the racism and prejudice that contributed to her death are far from over.

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Last week, Legault rebuked his immigration minister for claiming that 80 per cent of immigrants to the province “don’t work” or speak French, and the CAQ leader faced heat of his own for saying it would be “suicidal” to the Quebec nation if immigration levels were raised.

“They are lucky, because they started with an enormous lead,” Giasson said of the CAQ, “but it’s good (for them) that the campaign isn’t longer.”

Despite the campaign missteps, Legault is benefiting from a strong reserve of “sympathy and goodwill” that he cultivated during the last years of managing the pandemic, Giasson said, adding that Quebecers have tended to grant parties more than one mandate.

The CAQ leader is also being served by — and contributing to — the narrative that none of the other parties could effectively govern the province, Giasson said. “Maybe that’s the only success of François Legault’s campaign: to discredit the alternatives campaigning against him.”

On Friday, Legault told reporters that the ballot box question is, “Who has the best team to govern?” The premier said that while the five leaders grab the most media attention, the teams behind them are key.

“Ask yourselves tomorrow morning, who would be minister of finance? Who would be minister of health? … It takes a solid economic team to transform the Quebec economy into a green economy … to make the health system more efficient.”

Poll aggregator website QC125.com projects the possibility of a CAQ majority at over 99 per cent, even as the party’s polling numbers have slowly dropped below 40 per cent. The Liberals, Québec solidaire, the Conservatives and the Parti Québécois are all polling at around 14 to 17 per cent.

Geneviève Tellier, a political studies professor at the University of Ottawa, says there appears to be little appetite for change among the Quebec population. She attributes that in part to the fact that Legault’s government has been in power just four years, as well as to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The true option is, ‘Do we continue with the government that we know will be there if another major crisis occurs, or do we take a chance by going with the unknown?’” she said, noting that the other leaders are relatively new to their positions.

The experts agreed that the most interesting battle is the one for official Opposition in a province where, before Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec arrived on the scene in 2011, elections were for decades two-party battles between the Liberals and the PQ.

Of the four main parties seeking to unseat the CAQ, only the PQ has shown a noticeable rise in support in the polls since the election was called, reflecting what Tellier and Giasson described as a positive, ideas-focused campaign by leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

Tellier said the most striking aspect of the campaign has been the fact that, for the first time, five parties have managed to gain significant public support — something she thinks is ultimately good for democracy.

“There are some left-wing parties, right-wing parties and so there are debates that force the voter to think about the different propositions and to position themselves,” she said.

With the issue of Quebec sovereignty largely taking a backseat, the campaign’s focus has shifted to inflation and the cost of living, as well as the environment, the experts said.

The Liberals, Coalition Avenir Québec and Conservative party have all promised substantial tax cuts if elected, while Québec solidaire has promised to suspend the sales tax on some essential items and raise the minimum wage.

Éric Montigny, a political science professor at Université Laval, said there could be some surprises on election night, even if a Legault victory appears all but certain. He said he’s especially interested in the fate of the once-dominant Liberals, whose impregnable strongholds on the Island of Montreal have become “houses of cards.”

Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade, Conservative Leader Éric Duhaime and the PQ’s Plamondon are all in tight races in their own ridings, while Québec solidaire’s election-night success depends on motivating young voters, who are traditionally more reluctant to cast ballots.

He said some ridings are also seeing tight three-way races, which makes them particularly hard to call. “When there are several competitive parties, there can be surprises,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2022.

 

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Politics

Trump's slow 2024 start worries allies – CNN

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CNN
 — 

Back in 2015, Donald Trump’s first campaign rally in Iowa as a contender for the Republican presidential nomination came just 10 hours after he declared his candidacy in New York. The following day, he was across the country in New Hampshire, with plans to visit South Carolina before the end of his first week.

But seven years later – and nearly three weeks into his 2024 presidential campaign – Trump has yet to leave his home state or hold a public campaign event in an early voting state.

Trump’s disengaged posture has baffled former and current allies, many of whom experienced firsthand the frenetic pace of his two previous White House bids, and who now say he’s missed the window to make a splash with his 2024 rollout. The uninspiring launch of his supposed political comeback comes as his campaign appears to be operating on auto pilot, with few signs of momentum or enthusiastic support from donors or party heavyweights.

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“I don’t know why he rushed this. It doesn’t make sense,” one Trump adviser said of his lackluster announcement speech last month, which came one week after Republicans delivered an underwhelming performance in the midterm elections and as the rest of the party turned its attention to the Senate runoff contest in Georgia.

Trump’s call to terminate the Constitution is a fantasy, but it’s still dangerous

Trump’s announcement was roundly panned for lacking zest, so much so that some audience members attempted an early exit, and his recent hosting of Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and embattled rapper Kanye “Ye” West at Mar-a-Lago only further galvanized GOP opposition against him. A person familiar with the matter said Trump spent the Sunday after Thanksgiving asking people around him if they thought the backlash to his private dinner with Ye and Fuentes was truly damaging.

“So far, he has gone down from his bedroom, made an announcement, gone back up to his bedroom and hasn’t been seen since except to have dinner with a White supremacist,” said a 2020 Trump campaign adviser.

“It’s 1000% a ho-hum campaign,” the adviser added.

The only other notable event to occur since Trump announced he was running again was both unintended and dreaded for weeks by the former president’s attorneys. Just three days after Trump launched his campaign, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee two ongoing criminal investigations into the 45th president and his associates.

While some Republicans long speculated that Trump entered the presidential race early to inoculate himself from further legal peril, his candidate status instead appeared to serve as the catalyst for Garland’s announcement.

A Trump campaign spokesman said the former president has held “multiple events since he announced,” noting his remote appearance at the annual Republican Jewish Coalition summit last month, video remarks to a conference for conservative activists in Mexico, a Patriots Freedom Fund event, his remarks at two separate political events held at Mar-a-Lago, and a tele-rally Monday night for Georgia Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker. None of these events were billed as campaign events.

Trump’s current campaign trajectory has left both allies and Republican opponents wondering if he will flip a switch in 2023 or fail to adapt to a different political environment. Even as the GOP’s undisputed 2024 frontrunner, some of his closest allies say he simply cannot afford to take his position for granted at a moment when influential Republicans appear exceedingly interested in dislodging him from his influential perch.

“If Trump was working in a lush jungle environment in 2016, he is in a desert today,” said a Republican close to the former president. “The political landscape has totally changed. He was irresistible because no one understood him but now everybody knows how to deal with him, so the question is, can he recalibrate?”

Some sources said Trump’s first-out-of-the-gate strategy, which was said to be partly aimed at clearing the GOP primary field, already looks poised to fail.

“You know what it’s done to dissuade people from getting in? Nothing. He hasn’t hired anyone. He hasn’t been to the early states,” said the 2020 campaign adviser.

Trump’s lack of impact was on display a week after his announcement, as other 2024 Republican hopefuls took the stage in Las Vegas for the annual RJC summit. Some attacked the former President, while others, once allies of Trump, indicated they were ready to take him on in 2024.

Just days before the event, Trump’s team announced plans for him to address the group remotely. Two people familiar with the matter said his virtual address was organized by aides at the last minute after he grew agitated upon realizing the event was a cattle call for Republican presidential prospects and he was not on its original list of speakers. The Trump campaign spokesman disputed this account, saying Trump’s remote remarks were planned “many weeks prior to the event.”

Other sources who for months harbored concerns that Trump wasn’t as enthusiastic about running as he was letting on in public appearances now say his inactivity has increased their worry. Apart from a planned fundraising appearance for a classical education group in Naples last weekend, the former president has yet to announce any events before the end of the year. A person familiar with the matter said Trump’s team is toying with a pre-Christmas event of some kind, though his campaign has not yet finalized any travel. In a statement last week panning a move by Democratic officials to put South Carolina first on the party’s primary calendar, Trump appeared to tease a visit to Iowa, currently the first state to cast votes in both parties’ presidential nominating contests, “in the very near future.”

“I can’t wait to be back in Iowa,” he said.

Campaign is ‘taking a breather’

Inside Trump’s campaign, sources said his current approach is entirely intentional, dismissing concerns that he has forfeited the spotlight at a critical time but acknowledging that Trump is currently working with a bare-bones staff.

The campaign “is doing exactly what everyone always accuses [them] of not doing – taking a breather, planning and forming a strategy for the next two years,” said one source familiar with Trump’s operation said.

Senior staff are holed up working on a plan,” this person added, noting that Trump’s campaign travel is expected to begin early in the new year, right as possible rivals who have taken the holidays to mull their own political futures may start launching their own campaigns or exploratory committees.

And while some Trump allies have been surprised by his lack of a hiring spree right out of the gate, his campaign has been content to maintain a lean operation while he’s the only candidate in the field. The former president is not expected to tap a formal campaign manager, instead elevating three trusted advisers – Susie Wiles, Brian Jack and Chris LaCivita – to senior roles, but allies said he will likely need to build out his on-the-ground staff in early voting states in the months to come, as well as a robust communications operation if he finds himself in a competitive primary.

While those hires don’t need to happen immediately, people close to Trump said his early entry into the 2024 race does raise questions about how he will sustain campaign-related costs over a longer period than other candidates who declare later, including chief potential rival Ron DeSantis. CNN has previously reported that the Florida governor, should he decide to take on Trump, would announce next May or June, after the conclusion of his state’s legislative session and just months before the Republican party could host its first primary debate, according to a party official involved in debate planning.

“The question a lot of us have is can Trump sustain a campaign for two years. That’s the real difficulty here. The pacing we’re seeing right now is designed to do that,” said a person close to Trump.

In addition to planning rallies and events and building momentum around the former President, the campaign staff is also looking at how to best insulate Trump after many were caught off guard learning of Trump’s dinner with Fuentes and West. The event, and the days of fallout and negative coverage, has expedited some of the campaign’s long-term plans, including ensuring a senior campaign staffer is always with the former president, a source familiar with the campaign said.

Trump’s White House staff worked with resort staff during his presidency in a similar fashion to protect Trump from potentially “unsavory” guests of members, the source said. Those close to Trump blamed “low level staffers” for allowing Fuentes to slip into the resort without any flags being raised.

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Macron shows his politics on Russia are bush league

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What’s wrong with French President Emmanuel Macron? First, he needlessly tells Russian dictator Vladimir Putin that there are two conditions under which France might cease supplying weapons to Ukraine: “We will never compromise the ability of our army to defend our own territory and our citizens. We will also never supply such weapons that would make us a party to the conflict as a result of their use for attacks on Russian territory.”

One doesn’t have to be a Metternich to appreciate that it’s unwise to tell your enemies what you will or will not do before you enter into negotiations with them. The smart thing is to keep the adversary in the dark, guessing about your intentions. What Macron did was simply bush league, evidence of either arrogance or ignorance or both. Then, a little later, he outdid himself when he proclaimed: “We need to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states, and how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table. … One of the essential points we must address — as President Putin has always said — is the fear that NATO comes right up to its doors, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia.”

This statement is inane. For starters, let’s remind the French president that, with Finland’s admission into NATO, the alliance has come right up to Russia’s door and that the strategic nuclear weapons that could threaten Putin’s realm are primarily based, and will continue to be based, in the United States, the United Kingdom and — oh, yes — France. Deploying nukes on the Finnish border may send a signal of NATO’s toughness, but it effectively does nothing to enhance Russia’s insecurity or the West’s security. And everybody knew, and knows, that the West would have to be completely daft to base nuclear weapons in, of all places, Ukraine, which isn’t a NATO member.

Moreover, both Putin and Macron know full well that the armies that come under the NATO umbrella are, with the exception of those of the United States, United Kingdom and Poland, in miserable shape, having been severely neglected since the fall of the Berlin wall. America may pose a threat to Russia, but NATO does not. That Russians insist that it does is either self-serving propaganda meant to justify Putin’s militarism, imperialism and fascism or delusional paranoia rooted in Putin’s worldview that pits Russia against the world. Either way, the West needs to counter collective Russia’s mendacity or fantasies, not with mollycoddling but with straightforward explanations of reality.

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But what really takes the cake in Macron’s statement about security guarantees for Russia is its silence about security guarantees for Ukraine — an issue on which France thus far has been notably silent. Surely, one can’t provide guarantees to a self-styled great power with a huge nuclear arsenal without at the same time providing guarantees to the country that it has invaded and subjected to a genocidal war. Now, Macron has also expressed his unwavering commitment to Ukraine, so it’s highly unlikely that he intends to sell Ukraine down the river while providing guarantees to Russia. No, it’s the incoherence of his thinking that is most striking — and alarming. He’s the president of a powerful and influential country. He should know that guaranteeing Russia’s security is infinitely harder than guaranteeing Ukraine’s, and since Europe isn’t all too keen on the latter, how can he reasonably expect it to be keen on the former?

Besides, just how does one guarantee the security of an imperialistic, warmongering, fascist state ruled by a leader who seems delusional? The comparison with Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia is unavoidable. Imagine Adolf Hitler’s insistence in 1939, just before his attack on Poland, on security guarantees. Or Joseph Stalin’s insistence in 1948, after the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe, of similar guarantees. Just what could such guarantees possibly have entailed? And wouldn’t the priority be to guarantee the security of the countries being threatened?

Hélas, Monsieur le Président needs to go back to his books and do a bit of thinking. Otherwise, he risks becoming risible, hardly the quality that would guarantee his security as president or his ability to deal with the Putin threat.

Alexander J. Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires and theory, he is the author of 10 books of nonfiction, as well as “Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires” and “Why Empires Reemerge: Imperial Collapse and Imperial Revival in Comparative Perspective.”

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Eric Melillo MP – Week in National Politics Dec 5 2022

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Kenora MP Eric Melillo

Kenora – Politics – It was great to be back in Red Lake this weekend to walk in the Santa Claus parade, thank you to all the volunteers who helped organize it.  

Canada Summer Jobs Applications Open 

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The Canada Summer Jobs application for employers has opened and will be accepting applications until January 12, 2023.  I encourage all applicable businesses in the region to consider applying.

Bill C-21 Amendment 

This week I attended the Public Safety committee and expressed my opposition to the proposed Liberal amendment to ban many firearms traditionally used for hunting.   

My message to the Liberal and NDP Members of Parliament was clear: taking away firearms from hunters, trappers, and sport shooters in northwestern Ontario will do nothing to make urban cities safer.   

For many in our region, hunting is a way of life, an important tradition, and a way to put food on the table. But the Liberals don’t understand that.  

I have appreciated so many people from our region reaching out to my office, expressing their opposition to this amendment, and sharing the role hunting, trapping, and sport shooting play in their lives.  I’ve been able to share some of your stories, vocal opposition, and concerns with the government. I hope they’ll recognize how out of touch and problematic this proposal is and immediately withdraw it.  

My Conservative colleagues and I will continue to advocate against this amendment.  I encourage those who oppose this amendment to share your opposition with the Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino.  You can email him at: marco.mendicino@parl.gc.ca

National Council for Reconciliation 

For the past few weeks at Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee I’ve been working on Bill C-29, which will create a National Council for Reconciliation.  This Council will hold the government responsible on the path to reconciliation and provide updates on the progress made on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.  

I was pleased to see Bill C-29 passed in the House of Commons and look forward to working with my colleagues to advance reconciliation. 

Working for You

If you’re planning to be in Ottawa and are interested in attending Question Period or taking a tour of Parliament, please let me know, and my office can help reserve Question Period and tour tickets.

As always, if there is anything my office can assist you with, please call me at 807-223-2182 (Dryden) or 807-468-2170 (Kenora) or email me at eric.melillo@parl.gc.ca.  

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