Heavyweights: The Men of Montreal

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by True Grit, Aug 3, 2019.

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  1. CanadianTory Buttigieg 2020

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    Honestly I don’t think so. I think Premier was going to be his final act under any scenario.
     
  2. Kermode Well-Known Member

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    Not only the NDP's downward slide, but also seeing the Liberals catapult into office. Prentice's PCs would exist in an entirely different environment, one where the federal Conservatives are out of office and licking their wounds, and where Prentice is now the de facto head honcho of Canadian conservatism; in a situation where conservatism is on the downswing, it's easy to imagine disgruntled voters coming home to the PCs either as a form of solidarity or as a way to voice displeasure with the federal government.

    I wouldn't write off Wildrose entirely: that they did so well in 2015 despite everything (most of the bench up and leaving, new leader a career backbencher who took over a few months before, etc) tells me there was real appetite for a right-populist opposition, especially in the rural parts of the province. But it's certainly possible they could have been sidelined under this scenario.
     
  3. CanadianTory Buttigieg 2020

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    A similar situation I tried to depict in my TL*, except with the federal NDP in charge.

    *Shameless Plug.
     
  4. lord caedus Very legal and very cool

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    A collaboration by two of the best left-of-center Canadian infobox makers?

    [​IMG]

    Also, totally love how so far the entire TL, from McKenna's election to Prentice losing, has been designed to trigger @CanadianTory
     
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  5. True Grit Creek

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    The starting point of any great timeline!
     
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  6. Threadmarks: Part 5: 2009 federal election

    True Grit Creek

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    It would’ve been easy for Conservatives to come away from the 2007 election feeling disappointed – they’d lost, obviously, so who could blame them? Nevertheless, there were still reasons for the party to be optimistic. Sure, Stephen Harper’s loss wasn’t anything to be happy about, but compared to where they were a decade earlier they were still doing great. As if anybody could’ve seen a Reform-dominated Conservative Party doing as well as Harper did in Quebec a decade earlier, heck even Ontario for that matter given it had spent a solid decade as a seemingly insurmountable bastion of Liberal support. Harper's government had not been re-elected, but it was still hard to deny that he’d left the national conservative movement in a better place than it was when he’d taken over. Besides all that, Frank McKenna’s Liberals only had a minority, and if Harper was defeated so quickly who’s to say McKenna wouldn’t be as well? For all that, it wasn’t exactly hard for Conservatives to feel optimistic after electing Jim Flaherty as their new leader in the summer of 2008.

    Part of that optimism came from the party’s faith in Flaherty himself, of course. While he hadn’t necessarily been the frontrunner heading into the leadership race and had trailed Jim Prentice on all but the final round of voting, the party had quickly united behind him and seemed confident he’d be the man to take Frank McKenna down. Certainly, Flaherty had his advantages: aside from having been in the public eye since serving in Mike Harris’ provincial government during the 1990s, including mounting two provincial leadership campaigns, he’d made his mark on the national level as Harper’s Minister of Finance, and had earned a reputation as a strong fiscal manager. While critics would argue that the Liberals had left Flaherty a solid economy and that he personally deserved little credit for its continued strength, his reputation nevertheless was bolstered by his time in government and Canadians felt, whether they planned on voting Conservative or not, that Flaherty could at least be trusted with Canada’s finances if elected.

    However, it wasn’t completely rosy for the Conservatives, as it increasingly became clear that, for all his strengths, Flaherty would nevertheless be stuck defending himself from controversies dating back to his time in provincial politics, chief among them his association with the still-unpopular Harris government and two controversial statements from his unsuccessful 2002 bid to succeed Harris at the helm of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. The statements, the first affirming his opposition to abortion and embrace of the pro-life movement and the second promising to crack down on homelessness by criminalizing homelessness, were quickly seized upon by the Liberals, launching a series of attack ads accusing Flaherty of hiding an extreme socially conservative agenda and for lacking compassion with Canada’s hardest-hit communities. Despite Flaherty’s otherwise positive reputation, the attack ads would make their mark and slowly begin to drag Flaherty’s personal poll numbers down, and as Canada entered the autumn of 2008 polls would begin to show Flaherty’s honeymoon fading as the Liberals routinely found themselves hovering around majority territory.

    One thing that threatened to complicate this round of good news for the McKenna Liberals was the global economic recession that struck in late 2008. Almost overnight it seemed, economies across the world were in free fall as the housing market collapsed and more and more people suddenly found themselves unemployed. While Canada made its way through the crisis relatively uninjured, certainly in comparison to its neighbour to the south, Canadians were still worried the worst was yet to come and feared for their livelihoods.

    On the face of it, this crisis presented a solid opportunity for the Conservatives politically: Flaherty’s biggest strength was his reputation on the economy, and it was no secret that the Conservatives, Flaherty in particular, would be better off fighting an election on fiscal issues rather than social policy. Beyond that, in a time of fiscal crisis it was just natural to assume that Canadians would prefer a conservative economic policy and general fiscal restraint. Unfortunately for the Conservatives, though, for all his faults as Prime Minister Paul Martin had nevertheless gifted the Liberals with a glowing economic record, and not only had his steering of Canada’s economic ship during the 1990s allowed Canada to be relatively uninjured in the face of the current crisis but it had allowed the Liberals to seize upon an issue that had previously been a liability for them; as such, Conservative hopes that Canadians would rally behind the party in the face of the current financial crisis would not be realized, and, to the contrary, as the country entered 2009 the Liberal lead had only expanded.

    With that in mind, it wasn’t exactly shocking when, in January 2009, McKenna announced that he had asked Governor General Michaëlle Jean to dissolve parliament and call an election for March 4. While McKenna would cite the lack of cooperation from the other parties for this decision, arguing that their inability to work with the government was hampering the country and that Canada needed a “strong, stable majority government,” it was no secret that the Liberals were polling well and few could blame him for trying to seize this opportunity to make his job governing a little bit easier. McKenna would make this message the leading part of the Liberal campaign, and Finance Minister Scott Brison would emerge as the government’s top surrogate, touting the Liberal’s economic record and warning the country against switching horses midstream.

    Beyond Flaherty’s problems, it wasn’t just the Conservatives experiencing difficulties either. The Bloc Québécois’s very existence had been questioned ever since the 1995 Quebec referendum, and while the sponsorship scandal had breathed new life into the party and allow them to reposition themselves as the best party to defend Quebec’s interests (and conveniently ignore the sovereignty debate, given support for the movement was at its lowest in decades), McKenna’s ascension as Liberal leader and subsequent election as Prime Minister had taken this advantage away from them, leaving more and more Quebecers questioning the need to support the party; beyond that, the fact that both the Conservatives and in particular the New Democrats (under de-facto Quebecer Jack Layton) were mounting aggressive pushes in the province had left the Bloc bleeding support. The Greens, meanwhile, which had polled a record 7.4 percent in 2007, aside from the fact that they no longer had Harper as a convenient boogeyman of sorts to target, were dealt a further blow after the consortium of Canada’s main broadcasting networks announced that party leader Elizabeth May would not be invited to participate in the debates. While the Greens (and in fact the Conservatives, hoping May’s presence would split the centre-left vote) denounced the decision as undemocratic, the broadcasters stayed firm and indeed the Greens would repeatedly find themselves overshadowed during the campaign and unlikely to match their 2007 results.

    In the May-less debates, McKenna, Flaherty, Layton, and Gilles Duceppe would go toe to toe, with McKenna hammering Flaherty over his supposed lack of compassion and ties to the Harris government, Flaherty repeatedly emphasizing his economic credentials, Layton targeting both McKenna and Flaherty on their past cuts to social services (and, as polls would subsequently indicate, endearing himself to Canadians in the process), and Duceppe finding himself drowned out and generally ignored by everyone else on stage. The subsequent French language debates would provide a similar story, though Flaherty’s lack of skill in the language would provide some major moments for Duceppe and allow Duceppe to stop the bleeding of support from the Bloc to the Conservatives. In both debates polls generally showed McKenna and Layton emerging as the victors, though for Layton this evidently would not be good enough as McKenna’s continued popularity had left the NDP stagnant in the polls. Indeed, the party was polling worse than 2007 in every province outside of Quebec, where the Bloc’s troubles and a series of prominent star candidates had left the NDP looking at its best result since 1988, and Layton himself looked to be in a tight race in his own riding with Liberal candidate Andrew Lang. Flaherty, similarly, would find himself facing the pressure on his home turf, with the Liberals recruiting former Ambassador to Afghanistan Chris Alexander to run against Flaherty as a star candidate in the riding the Liberals had held as recently as 2006. With Flaherty in part distracted by the contest in his own constituency, the Conservatives would continue to struggle in the polls, and as the ballots closed on March 4, 2009 the question was not who would win but rather if the Liberals would win a minority or a majority.

    Ultimately, Canadians would give them the latter, with the Liberals winning 178 seats and 41.5 percent of the vote, its highest share of the vote since Pierre Trudeau’s 1980 re-election. The Conservatives, meanwhile, would win 81 seats and 29 percent of the vote, and while Flaherty was nevertheless able to hang on to his own riding (defeating Alexander by a 2-point margin) it became increasingly clear that his future as party leader was now in doubt. This was certainly the case for the NDP’s Layton: while the party had won roughly the same amount of support as they had in 2007, the Liberal gains had cost the party 8 seats, Layton’s being one of them, his own personal popularity being unable to combat the Liberal wave; Layton would resign as NDP leader shortly after the election. Similarly, the Bloc Québécois would find itself forced into a leadership contest as the party found itself with the worst result in its admittedly short history, winning just 28 seats and 8.5 percent of the vote nationally and falling behind the Liberals in Quebec. While Duceppe himself would be re-elected in his riding, he would soon announce his resignation as the party’s leader after over a decade at a helm.

    [​IMG]

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  7. CanadianTory Buttigieg 2020

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    I need a fucking drink.
     
  8. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    If I may wax philosophical for a moment, it reminds me a lot of the TLs where the United States is somehow even more ludicrously, improbably successful than it was IOTL.

    The Liberal Party of Canada is the most consistently successful political party in the history of the modern Western Democracies, it has been called our "natural governing party", and IOTL it managed a downright suspicious comeback from third to first (and a majority!) in 2015. Even provincially, the Liberals survive in every province, albeit very much on life support in parts of the West. But obviously there are people out there (as there are people who believe the USA ought to have achieved even more in its first two centuries of existence) who feel this isn't enough, that there should be TLs where the Liberals should always win instead of just usually. To each their own.

    Looking forward to the electoral map!
     
  9. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

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    Ahem ;), I think four years off in sixty-four wins—but yeah Canada’s Libs are hilariously implausible lol. That’s why this timeline makes perfect sense, it’s just OTL’s luck turned up a notch.
     
  10. Hubert Humphrey Fan 1968 RIP Japhy

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    Those are the best timelines IMO, the ones which seem absurd but make sense underneath the surface (see: basically the entirety of Praise the Lord by TrueGrit).
     
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  11. Threadmarks: Part 5a: Maps of the 2009 federal election

    Hubert Humphrey Fan 1968 RIP Japhy

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    Ask and ye shall receive:

    Heavyweights09Election.svg.png

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Kermode Well-Known Member

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    Great update! McKenna is approaching the fabled Martinslide.

    And now Layton and Duceppe are out too, huh? Unlike Martin and Harper, it's a lot harder for me to get my head around these and imagine the NDP and BQ under different leaders at this point in time. I guess I can think of a few people who could conceivably take over for Layton at this period IOTL, but I'm coming up blank for the Bloc. The next election will feel totally unrecognizable compared OTL… I don't know if this was an intentional theme but it's definitely opened my eyes to just how completely the 00s were defined by single personalities.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  13. Talwar Ontario Mountain Man

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    The split of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs into different departments was interesting to see, although my recollection is that northern MPs have never served as Minister of whatever department contains Northern Affairs.
     
  14. Hubert Humphrey Fan 1968 RIP Japhy

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    Not quite as much as the 1990s, but yeah, definitely.
     
  15. Threadmarks: Part 6: The 2011 Conservative leadership election

    Hubert Humphrey Fan 1968 RIP Japhy

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    In contrast to 2008, in 2011 the Conservative leadership race was very much Jim Prentice's to lose. Prentice was the great "what-if" of the last leadership convention and with how poorly the party had performed in 2009, the membership had perhaps the world's worst case of buyer's remorse. So dominant was Prentice that several of his potential challengers sat out, not seeing the point in spending time and money on mounting a futile effort for the leadership. In the end, Prentice faced only 3 challengers. Backbench British Columbia MP John Cummins, Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford, and Maxime Bernier (again).

    Rob Ford was running mostly out of loyalty to his old friend Jim Flaherty. He argued that he could expand the party's support in the Toronto-region, where his loyal bloc of supporters in Etobicoke and Scarborough were often called "Ford Nation". He came out forcefully against Prentice, calling him a "Liberal in Blue Clothing" who wouldn't crackdown on the Liberal "Gravy train" in Ottawa the way Ford had in Toronto City Hall. Forceful though the attacks were, they failed to move the needle much, and Ford was himself was hit hard by the other candidates for his past scandals and controversies.

    Cummins was running as the social conservative candidate in the race. Much like Ford, he attacked Prentice as too moderate, but his lack of profile and the fact that the Conservatives had just lost an election in no small part due to their leader being seen as too socially conservative made it hard for Cummins to gain traction. He would ultimately come in last.

    Bernier, on the other hand, attacked everyone else in the field (not just Prentice) on the economic front. He argued that he was the only candidate standing for the leadership who would crackdown on "corporate welfare" and he fiercely attacked the system of supply management, calling it a "cartel". On top of this, as the only Québécois standing for the leadership, he argued he could expand the party's support base in his native province, where the Tories had won only 8 seats to the Liberal's 38 last election. By the end of the campaign, Bernier had impressed many, and most agreed he was a future leader; however most also agreed that it would be very difficult for him to beat Jim Prentice.

    Ultimately, the contest was a drama-free affair. Despite attempts by some to build the race up as competitive, the outcome was never in doubt, and Prentice took the leadership handily on the first ballot.

    11CPCLeadership.png
     
  16. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

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    Last I checked, Japan isn't in the West, but nice try :cool:

    Some thoughts:

    Despite McKenna getting his coveted majority he still failed to sweep the Atlantic as Baby Trudeau managed IOTL 2015, though the loss of Tobique--Mactaquac probably stings the Tories. (I'm also not sure I see it - I know it went Liberal in 2004 but I think once the Tories got it they weren't going to lose it except in a clean sweep.) The NDP have a relatively strong Atlantic caucus, with three "personal fiefdom" MPs (Godin, Stoffer, and Harris) and Leslie in McDonough's old riding. This also means the Tories and the NDP are tied in the Atlantic at 4 MPs apiece.

    On the one hand, Verner holds her seat in Louis-Saint-Laurent (a valid call, she only barely lost IOTL 2011) so she's probably set for a while. The loss of Chicoutimi and the failure to pick up Riviere-du-Loup (lost by only a recount margin IOTL 2011 and one of the few Tory pickups in 2015; I suppose Genereux doesn't run ITTL) are surprises as well. The NDP failing to break through in Quebec mean a very different future for that province in the cards, especially if (as IOTL) it begins to genuinely embrace right-wing ideology for the first time since Duplessis.

    No huge surprises in Ontario, though a lot of seats lost only because they went down IOTL 2015 which I think might be premature (Prince Edward--Hastings) and some losses which were retained IOTL (Durham, Perth--Wellington, Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Westdale, at least in part).

    The Liberals breaking through in Calgary seems odd to me. They're probably moving full steam ahead on the environmentalist agenda and the recession hit Alberta hard - why would Calgary embrace the governing Liberals in this situation?

    To be honest the Liberals getting away with doing so well in the face of a recession when they've been governing for 15 of the last 16 years strikes me as odd - even Clark managed to seize power from Papa Trudeau in 1979, and when the late-1950s recession hit the new Diefenbaker government in 1958, voters took it out on the Liberals who had governed for 22 of the previous 23 years. I mean, yes, Canada weathered the recession better than most countries, but still.

    Layton losing his own seat is obviously the upset of this election - hard to put a brave face on that. (Again, I don't think it's likely but I concede the Liberals do tend to sweep the 416 with impunity.) I assume we'll be seeing their leadership convention soon and smart money is on Charlie Angus but as always with the NDP you can never discount a woman or visible minority (or both!) coming out of nowhere to win the leadership. One problem is the only women who made serious bids IOTL were Niki Ashton and Peggy Nash, who currently also do not have seats in Parliament. Maybe a provincial figure might make the jump?

    And let me guess, he's about to be dealt a bad hand yet again (just as IOTL by your estimation) as McKenna wins 200+ seats and over 50% of the vote in 2013? :p
     
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  17. Hubert Humphrey Fan 1968 RIP Japhy

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    Eh, I dunno. McKenna was very much a Business Liberal (although he will be more Environmental than Harper obviously), and with how big the Liberals are winning, I don't see why they couldn't win some seats in Calgary.
    You know, I discussed this with True Grit when we were cooking this up. It's mostly due to how "detached" (for lack of a better term) McKenna is from the previous Chretien-Martin duopoly; he's not seen as much of a continuation in spite of the Liberals having been in office 15 of the past 16 years (which IMO is a very interesting dynamic), and Flaherty being seen as too right-wing doesn't help things for the CPC.
    I can neither confirm nor deny this.
    I write timelines, not fantasies :p.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019 at 7:47 AM
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  18. Kaiser Julius Well-Known Member

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    Are we gonna get USA, UK or the world outside?
     
  19. Hubert Humphrey Fan 1968 RIP Japhy

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    Nothing international is planned.
     
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  20. CanadianTory Buttigieg 2020

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    #TeamPrentice
     
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