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Bernier affair may hold Tory troubles in Quebec
The Maxime Bernier affair has the potential to set back years of Tory efforts to make political inroads into Quebec, say some political analysts.
There are currently 11 Tories from Quebec sitting in the House of Commons. The Tories are hoping to elect more the next time, and have run neck-and-neck with the Bloc Quebecois in recent polls. They've consistently led the Liberals.
But that could change, says Antonia Maioni, the director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.
"It's all going to depend on how Quebecers read what's happened to (the former foreign affairs minister) and how they judge Maxime Bernier's actions (and the) prime minister's action in appointing him and hastening his resignation," she told CTV Newsnet's Mike Duffy Live from Montreal.
"Certainly, the love affair or the honeymoon of Quebecers with the Conservative Party is about to be over."
Maioni says he was an important cabinet appointment because of a dearth of qualified candidates from Quebec.
"He's sort of the pinup boy for the Conservative Party," she said.
"(Bernier) was someone with whom Quebecers could identify -- and say 'ah ha! that's the Conservative Party in Quebec.' He was the face of the Conservative party."
It's important to note, said political commentator and former Liberal MP Jean Lapierre, that the Tories' possible troubles in Quebec may not necessarily help the Liberals.
"I don't think that will change much of Mr. (Stephane) Dion's fortunes here in Quebec. (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper will have to find better candidates, more star candidates to compensate for the disappearance of Mr. Bernier ... but we'll have to see," Lapierre told Mike Duffy Live.
Maioni agreed the scandal may not do much for Dion's fortunes, but it could still hurt the Tories.
"There's another party out there called the Bloc Quebecois and I think the people in Quebec will be seeing what is going on and say, 'Are the Conservatives the people we really want to represent us in the House of Commons -- or do we fall back on that other alternative?'" she said.
Back in his hometown riding of Beauce - where he won his seat with a bigger majority than any other Quebec MP -- Bernier still has his supporters.
One Beauce resident told CTV Montreal that a minister's "private life is his private life." Some residents noted they would likely vote for Bernier again, but added that he should have taken his responsibility more seriously.
With a report from CTV Montreal