In the discontent Jean Charest would cause, there would no longer be any political party at the federal level that Westerners could see any hope in of carrying their banner to Ottawa.
Charest has been testing the waters of a Conservative-to-Liberal-to-Conservative hat trick since Andrew Scheer announced his resignation as Tory leader in December. News that the corruption probe into his actions as Quebec’s Liberal Premier certainly didn’t help him believe that he had “winning conditions” for the job, but neither must have anyone serious he was consulting with in the West.
However much the Brian Mulroney era may be fondly remembered in Laurentian Tory circles, it is not looked upon as a golden era in the West. Westerners with older battle scares than me remember Charest’s time in the Mulroney government as marked by the F-18 maintenance fiasco, endless constitutional pandering to Quebec, and wild deficits that nearly bankrupted the country.
However much Laurentian Tories may see Jean Charest as the Captain Canada that fought back Lucien Bouchard, many Westerners see him as a Quebec Liberal who fought for special status and more federal (namely, Western) money.
Media point to Jean Charest’s progressive credentials in enthusastic support of unfettered government-funded abortion, the Kyoto Protocol, the carbon tax, and the long-gun registry. These credentials may make Charest popular with the Laurentian media and even a few Liberal voters, but they are anathema to many conservatives, and Western conservatives in particular.