Commentators and pundits across Ottawa have been quick to signal the demise of the Bloc Quebecois in light of Monday's lower St.Lawrence River federal by-election; handily won by the Conservatives.
The respected Toronto Star and Le Devoir columnist, Chantal Hebert, has suggested the stigma of Quebec's ambivalence over the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has once and for all been eliminated with the election of Bernard Genereux, the popular Mayor of La Pocatiere, to the Federal House of Commons.
Mr. Genereux's election as a Conservative in this traditional Bloc stronghold though may have just as much to do with his immense local popularity, and his strong connections to the provincial Liberal government of Premier Jean Charest. In regional politics, particularly in ridings outside of the country's urban centres, the local politicians all know that it's best to hedge your bets and stay on good terms with "them that can help" regardless of Party affiliation. There are rumours along the lower half of the St. Lawrence River that the newly minted Tory M.P. sought and received support from at least three Liberal Members of Mr. Charest's government in organising his successful election. Nothing wrong there - Good for him!
The dirty little secret down around the riding's main community, Riviere-du-Loup, has been for years that political squabbles between the Federal and Provincial governments has delayed and postponed construction of the four lane highway #85 from the St. Lawrence River to the New Brunswick border near Edmundston to replace the monstrous two lane relic from the 1950's (Highway #185); known locally as the killer highway, for the scores of people killed accidentally along its 80 kilometres stretch.
In recent years the Federal Government has bankrolled construction of the 110 Km/hour four and six lane divided Highway #2 that slices through New Brunswick and into the heart of the Maritimes. But; it has never been able to come to reasonable accommodations with "independantiste" elements in Quebec to complete the missing 80 kilometre link. Perhaps with his connections Mr. Genereux may be able to help "grease the wheels". Thousands in the Maritime Provinces would surely be grateful.