Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Andre Arthur: Toned-Downed Quebecois Version of Howard Stern Elected as Independent

Recently saw Andre Arthur being interviewed on the CBC. Arthur is the only independent elected to Canadian parliament this election. He represents a riding in Quebec city, where he's a very popular and controversial talk-radio host. From what I saw of him today he actually seemed fairly reasonable and articulate. He's actually a federalist, so every party in parliament will have a shot at working with him.

He's gotten a lot of media attention for making comments describing African students as 'sons of cannibals', and claiming that Lucien Bouchard was having an affair with Rene Levesque's widow (at least you have to give the guy credit for being creative with his slander). I wouldn't take that too seriously since nowadays shock is more or less a prerequisite for any successful radio host. I wouldn't be surprised if the Conservatives are able to eventually bring him to their party. After all the Cons seem to be a natural fit for angry loud-mouthed curmudgeon types. Being a radio talk-show ranter, he'll be a natural for appealing to the Conservative Party base, angry white middle-aged men. Sorry couldn't resist.

Given how tarnished the Liberals are in Quebec, the resurgent Le Bleu would seem the most logical choice for this guy if he decided to join a party. The Cons being desperate for any more seats in Quebec would happy to take him- it could serve as nice window dressing too, since it'd show there's room for the unconventional and hip in the party. Also, a colourful character like Arthur, would make for a much needed contrast to their stiff, cold-eyed, policy-wonk of a leader- an uncomfortable Harper can make Al Gore look like James Brown. Who the heck shakes hands with their children when dropping them off at school. Even Ward Cleaver showed more open affection to his brood ;-) Goes to show you the Canadian electorate doesn't quite fall for flash like the rowdy mob south of the border.

However, I'm sure Arthur will enjoy being an independent for some time though. He'll have plenty of opportunity to play the be a kingmaker in a parliament where the Conservatives and NDP are one seat short of a majority. I have the feeling this guy will have the savvy to leverage his independent status for all its worth. The media hasn't given him much attention so far because of his irreverent style, but we'll be hearing plenty about him as soon as the Cons start trying to push through anything remotely right of center. A ranter like Arthur would also likely be a natural ally when it comes to electoral and ethical reform. We'll find out how it plays out soon enough.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just leaving a quick comment of agreement as I look over the blog reactions to the elections.

I'm currently living in Montreal but I lived in Quebec City until two years ago, so I followed closely what happened with the CRTC and Arthur.

I just want to make a quick fix to something that is travelling across the blogs who comment about Arthur, and it's that "Cannibal" comment. It seems awful at first until you realise that it's another comment really taken out of context.

First thing is that there really were students at the Laval university sent their by their parents from africans country who happened to be either the dictators themselves or high ministers for dictatorial regimes. These students were given special treatments because of the money their parents transfered to the university, it was a local scandal when all of this came out. And the cannibal comment came from that, not from the act of eating human flesh, but rather as a reference to the way these regimes were eating up the ressources of their own country while their people died.

It was an outraged comment on a situation where the university was accepting money that was cannibalized by dictators from their own country.

But one thing that is sure is that he will remain independant, I do not see him joining any party officially. He claimed that it would be to betray the poeple who voted for him to join a party when he ran as independant, so the only time he would join one was if there is another election, but even then he's too independant and one of the biggest complaints he had against politics is the party line system and party politics.

Anyway, just a quick comment, good post overall.

12:16 AM  
Blogger A. Shah said...

Hi Fred,

Thanks for detailed comments, they're greatly appreciated. I suspected an independent like Arthur may have said something about not joining any party, I should read a little bit more about him before posting :) In light of that, I think it's less likely he'll be joining the conservatives at some point. However, while most independents are elected because they aren't affiliated with any party, if they want to really make a career out of being an MP then they I believe they usually have to end up joining a party to survive. I can see him being an independent in the next election (probably 1.5-2.5 years from now), but if he became a really long-term MP I would expect him to join one of the parties.
Hypothetical- Say the Cons or Libs win a majority next time around? I would imagine Arthur would be under a lot more pressure to join one party or another. Yeah, he could participate as a critic in that situation, but everyone will stop paying attention after the novelty wears off.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Baron bleu-obscur said...

The King Arthur joining a politic party?
You can forget it...

He loves to much his own independance to be shut up by the party line system!

The only way I see he could join a politic party is to be the leader of one of them, or to start his own party!!!

By the way, he is an intelligent man and smart enough to be the « guardian dog (?) » of the parliament and will voluntarily talk to the media about what he will learn about the « professional politicians » (as he loves to call them)...

It will be fun to watch it!

8:18 AM  

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