REVIEW: Char is the only leader capable of winning in Quebec, GTA

See the Conservative leadership race through the lens of electoral math and political geography.

As the Conservative leadership race nears the finish line, polls are beginning to show a consistent trend. Pierre Poilievre can win the party, but only Jean Charest can win the country.

The mathematics and political history behind this conclusion are simple. Let’s start with Quebec.

The House of Commons reserves 78 seats for Quebec MPs. The Conservative Party currently holds only 10 seats. To form a government, it needs to win many more of those seats.

History teaches that his best chance of succeeding is with a chef from Quebec.

Ask Joe Clark, Kim Campbell, Preston Manning, Stockwell Day, Steven Harper, Andrew Scheer, Erin O’Toole or – if he was still alive – Bob Stanfield.

The last 60 years of electoral history have taught us a simple truth about Quebec politics: in federal elections, Quebecers vote for the party led by the person they believe to be the best Quebecer in the race.

Quebec voters could have voted for the Conservatives in any of the 16 elections led by any of these excellent leaders for over half a century, but they did not.

Party affiliation does not matter. Two Trudeaus, Mulroney, Bouchard, Blanchet. Different parties, different elections, but all strongly supported by Quebec voters.

And if there are no “acceptable” local leaders in the race, Quebec voters will even vote for a Quebecer who has left home, like “the good Jack”, Jack Layton!

But Brian Mulroney won 58 of Quebec’s 75 seats in 1984 and 63 in 1988.

Otherwise, the best a Tory leader has done since the Beatles played Ed Sullivan was 13 seats under Harper. And he made a powerful attempt to appeal to Quebec.

However, Quebecers voted three times to make Charest premier and four times for him as a Conservative MP, including once as party leader.

These seven victories prove that he can win in Quebec. This immediately puts into play the 68 seats that the Conservatives do not currently hold.

As for Ontario, the Conservatives blocked many Ontario seats representing small towns and villages and rural areas of the province.

But there are 53 seats in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). After the last election, the Conservatives won four. In previous elections, they had won five.

Between 78 in Quebec and 53 in Greater Toronto, there are 131 seats. The Conservative Party currently holds 14.

In addition to their current 119 seats in the House of Commons, the Conservatives need another 50 seats to form a majority. Where are they going to get them?

Not to the west. They have already won the overwhelming majority of the seats there. How about the east? There are 32 seats in total in Atlantic Canada. Even if they won every one of them, they would be 18 short.

Quebec and the GTA are where they have to win. Remember the math: between them, Quebec and the GTA have 131 seats. The Conservatives hold 14.

If you can’t change that reality, you’ll be on the outside watching Jagmeet and Justin until they’ve taxed and spent the country into oblivion.

Some would say that Harper won a majority government in 2011 with only five seats in Quebec. It’s true. But he did so by overthrowing 27 Liberal seats, thanks to an ill-fated campaign by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

Most of those 27 seats were in Ontario, especially ethnically sensitive seats in and around the GTA that were recruited in large part through the tireless efforts of Jason Kenney who worked hard to build bridges to diverse ethnic communities. .

Think of 2011 as an anomaly. One of 16 elections in half a century where a non-Quebec leader of the Conservative Party won a majority because of his exemplary campaign and the particular circumstances of this race.

Polls now consistently show that only one Conservative leadership candidate can successfully navigate the political geography and electoral calculations needed to win the country.

His name is Jean Charest.

Over to you, fellow Conservatives. In the words of Margaret Thatcher, do you want to “straighten out what’s left”, or just watch?

Hon. Lawrence Cannon, the Hon. Peter Kent and the Hon. John Reynolds are former Conservative MPs.

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