BY JASON THOMPSON
Former premier Mike Harris' common sense revolution is one reason Ontario voters are leery of Stephen Harper because they think he has the same agenda, says journalist and political commentator Chantal Hebert.
For this reason, she expects the federal Liberals to win another minority government.
The political columnist for The Toronto Star and French newspaper Le Devoir, Hebert spoke at the University of Sudbury Wednesday evening.
She said the biggest political battlegrounds in the pending federal election will be in Ontario, where Liberals are fighting for their political lives against the Conservatives, and in Quebec where they have to beat the Bloc-Quebecois.
In Ontario, Hebert figures the battle will depend on how many people dislike the Liberals enough to risk a vote for Harper.
For this reason, Hebert thinks Harper will try to cozy up to NDP leader Jack Layton in an attempt to win important seats in Ontario.
In Quebec meanwhile, the Liberals are engaged in another battle for political superiority, this time with Gilles Duceppe and his Bloc Quebecois.
Between the sponsorship scandal and signs of another push for sovereignty, Hebert said her guess is as good as anyone's when it comes to how the election will play out in Quebec.
She has no idea, and she lives there, she said.
Hebert doesn't know if the Bloc can win Quebec or even if they would call a referendum if given the chance, but she suspects the separatists could have enough support to win it.
The replacement of current Liberal Quebec premier Jean Charest, whose popularity is falling, could go a long way in helping the federal Liberal cause in Quebec.
Hebert commented on the validity of popularity polls taken during an election campaign. She said for the most part, they don't tell the whole story.
In 1995, a week before the Quebec referendum, polls indicated that the separatists had 57 percent of voting public behind them and still lost the vote, she said.
Hebert is a frequent guest panelists on CBC Television's The National. She started her career in 1975 as a reporter for the regional television and radio newsroom of Radio-Canada in Toronto. She then went on to cover Queen?s Park and become a national reporter for Radio-Canada.