St-Narcisse-de-Beaurivage is a picturesque farming community nestled in the verdant pasture land south of Quebec City.

And, to clear up any snickering now, it is named after the Roman Catholic Saint and 3rd Bishop of Jerusalem, not the self-absorbed figure from Greek Mythology.

It's the hometown for Conservative MP Jacques Gourde and is in his riding of Lotbinière-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière. He held on to it despite the New Democrats' Orange Crush of 2012, winning by just 777 votes (39.9 per cent to the NDP's 38.5 per cent).

To put that narrow margin in perspective, Elections Canada says there were 926 spoiled ballots in the riding in the same election.

But, when you look at the polls just in St-Narcisse, Gourd won with 78.5 cent of the vote in a town where 82 per cent of the eligible population cast a ballot.


Stephen Harper, centre, throws a washer during a friendly game with members of his cabinet June 24 in St-Narcisse-de-Beaurivage, Que. The Conservatives didn't have much luck in la belle province in 2011, winning just five seats. (Clement Allard/Canadian Press)

All that to say: there may not be many pockets of strong Conservative support in Quebec, but this is one.

It also just so happens, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that the town's mayor, Denis Dion, was the first mayor in Quebec to publically endorse the Conservative Party of Canada.

So, what better place to celebrate the highly politicized St-Jean-Baptiste Day than under a tent on the front lawn of the mayor's farm in a very Conservative-friendly town?

(It's also very easy to get to the spot; newly laid asphalt runs from the main road right to the edge of the mayor's driveway. Guests did have to drive a hundred metres or so on old asphalt and gravel to get to the parking, though, but I digress.)

Twenty members of cabinet were in attendance, including the prime minister.

'More than 5 elected MPs'

Vic Toews, Rob Nicholson, Gordon O'Connor, Peter Van Loan and many others sat shoulder-to-shoulder beneath a large Quebec flag, some of them also waving small Quebec flags.

As Christian Paradis, the Industry Minister and Harper's Quebec lieutenant, put it: "The Federal government is more than five elected MPs from Quebec."

There is a recognition that while Harper still would have won his majority even if he had taken no seats in Quebec, with referendum clouds gathering again on the horizon, it's an unhealthy situation for the country's governing party to be so weak in the province.

The message was: we care about Quebec. We're here for you — even if you don't vote for us.

Unfortunately, in the tightly scripted day, there was no opportunity to ask other Conservatives about their thoughts on Quebec, the possibility of a coming referendum, for example, or official bilingualism — or any other issue.

Media attending the event were kept at a great distance from Conservative caucus members, with only Paradis made available to take a few questions.

Even MP Jacques Gourde, the host of this retreat, wasn't "taking any questions" that day, according to PMO staff. 

The federal government may be more than five elected MPs in the province, but it's clear they speak with only one voice.