by Steve Paikin Monday March 5, 2007

I spent a few hours last night finishing Chantal Hebert’s latest book, French Kiss, in anticipation of our interview on this evening’s edition of The Agenda.

After completing the book, I went to my computer to check on some numbers. I wanted to see how the various incarnations of the Conservative Party had done in the province of Quebec over the past almost 40 years.

Here’s what I found:

FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

PROVINCE OF QUEBEC

2004 0 Con
2000 1 PC
0 CA
1997 5 PC
0 Ref
1993 1 PC
0 Ref
1988 63 PC
1984 58 PC
1980 1 PC
1979 2 PC
1974 3 PC
1972 2 PC
1968 4 PC

With the exception of the two Brian Mulroney majority governments (which owe their great showing in Quebec to Mulroney and not the party), the Conservative Party, the Progressive Conservative Party, the Reform Party, and the Canadian Alliance have been virtually non-existent in the province.

How then does one explain Stephen Harper’s 10 seats from the January 2006 election?

True, the Tories managed five seats in the 1997 election. But that’s when Jean Charest was leader.

How did a leader from Alberta, who was a champion of the Clarity Act, become the federalist alternative in Quebec last time ‘round?

We’ll investigate that tonight.

In addition, Hebert tells us in her book that after those 2006 results came in, Harper pledged (against the express wishes of some of his staff) to refashion the Conservative majority government coalition through Quebec, rather than Ontario.

Why would he make such a decision, which as the above chart shows, seems to fly in the face of so much history?

Again, hopefully, we’ll get the answers tonight.

The Toronto Star’s Chantal Hebert joins us for the full hour for a discussion of her book, provocatively called French Kiss.

I’m afraid to ask why she called the book that. This is after all a family show.