The problem is still Quebec, Justin.

It was obvious from the beginning of this extra long federal election campaign that the advantage was to Liberal Justin Trudeau. Here we are down to the last four weeks of the campaign and he is the Energizer Bunny—still fresh and eager—while Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair are wilting. There is no time to rest now. The campaign has turned the last curve and the political parties are in the final stretch.

The question now is not whether the Liberals can win a minority. That is obvious. The question is whether the Liberals can turn Quebec around. The Quebec vote is the key to a majority. At the moment Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats are sitting on the old separatist vote and neither Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Québécois nor Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are shaking them loose.

Mulcair has promised the old separatists that he will throw out the Liberal Clarity Act that Jean Chrétien ‘imposed’ on them to keep referendum questions fair and the count something more than 50 per cent plus one.

But Mulcair cannot keep this duplicity secret from the voters in Ontario who he thinks do not care about his Quebec strategy. It is costing him the votes he needed in Ontario.

But how Trudeau expects to turn the tide in Quebec is still a mystery. His key campaign strategists are Katie Telford and Gerald Butts. What either of them understands about Quebec is very much open to question. The key campaign guy for the Liberals in Quebec is likely a guy named Dan Gagnier. Dan is basically a civil servant who has worked for the federal government and the governments of Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. Besides being chair of private sector Alcan, he was most recently chief of staff for Quebec’s Premier Jean Charest.

We will give Dan and Justin this as a freebee: they need a big idea. That is what they need to consolidate the base Liberal strength in Ontario and Quebec. There are two ideas that can be proposed. Number one is the idea of a high-speed electrified rail corridor from Quebec City to Windsor, Ontario. With Quebec engineering and electricity and Ontario’s trains, that could be accomplished over the next dozen years.

The second big idea is free university across Canada. This is a country that can no longer give up on its youth. The simple promise is that if you pass, it is free. The dividends to our country will be endless.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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