Maybe I could have mentioned Tout le Monde en Parle
in my Top 5... It's Québec's most-watched talk show with 2 million viewers, basically a third of the French-speaking population. It's an intelligent show with a wide, popular reach. Host Guy A. Lepage receives about half a dozen guests who are interviewed and spend about 4 hours on the set; afterwards, their conversations are compressed into a 2 hour show, with Guy A. doing the editing himself. He's not an ace interviewer; he can be witty, but most of his questions are prepared in advance and he doesn't really budge from his show plan. Guy A. used to be part of Rock et Belles Oreilles, the comedy troupe that broke every taboo, and accordingly the show has few limits, should the guests want to go there. Guy Fournier, Radio-Canada/CBC's president, learned the lesson at his expense when he praised the joys of defecation, and later on had to resign after the public outcry (louder in English Canada, I should say).
What's really interesting about this show is that the day's most important actors come to talk about their experiences. Since we're in an election campaign, this week André Boisclair visited the show, to be followed by Mario Dumont and Jean Charest in the next couple weeks. Boisclair really needed a boost, as he is seen as detached from the regular population, too refined and mealy-mouthed. The overwhelming response (both blog entry and in comments, en français)
seems to be that he just saved his election campaign on the show tonight. His answers were quite to the point, he was speaking in every day language and didn't flash his idiotic Colgate smile too much. He also addressed the question of "reasonable accomodations" correctly, one of the hot topics of this election campaign. He didn't give any KO, but his few attacks on his opponents were to the point and will stick in people's minds for the week to come. If Boisclair can continue to behave like he did on that show tonight, the PQ might be back in the race, or at least it can stop the bleeding to the ADQ.
The results of the Québec election will bear a serious weight on the federal scene. Harper is praying that the PQ doesn't win, since in a follow-up federal elections, people would be more inclined to vote for the Liberals, the known separatist-fighters. A Québec Liberal re-election, on the other hand, would cement the Harper-Charest relationship. A Charest victory would boost Harper's claim that federalism works for Québec. But in order to give Charest a hand, Harper will release the federal budget one week before the provincial election. Will Harper spend billions of dollars in Québec? A proposal to re-engineer the perequation formula was leaked to the press in January: resources revenues were included at 50%, with Québec being the only winner of the new formula, and Alberta losing some money. Will Harper push this forward? If so, will people in Québec just take the money and run, or recognize the attempt at buying them off and vote accordingly?
The timing is set so that the budget can have its impact on the provincial election, but before it gets voted on in the House of Commons, allowing for some backtracking or simply the defeat of the Harper government. It's going to leave a rather short time for people to react, especially since budgets are such large documents. First impressions and early analysis of the federal budget could have a certain impact on the election... Anyway, we'll see what happens.