Canada Battleground Quebec: Parties clash over province’s dozens of key ridings
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Tucked away on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, across from the island of Montreal, the suburban riding of La Prairie may be Quebec’s best election bellwether.
Over the last three elections, the towns that make up the riding have elected MPs from three different parties: the NDP in 2011, the Liberals in 2015, and the Bloc Québécois in 2019.
It is a bit of a microcosm of Quebec as a whole — arguably the most volatile electorate of any province.
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“When it comes to federal elections, Quebecers are very much the kings and queens of strategic voting,” says Christian Bourque from the polling company Léger.
According to a Léger poll of Quebec voters released Tuesday, the Liberals hold onto about 34 per cent of the vote, while the Bloc Québécois trails at 30, the Conservatives at 19 and the NDP at 10.
While there has been a Conservative revival in the polls nationally, that hasn’t happened in Quebec, where the polls have stayed relatively flat — but that might be changing.
After spending the first couple of weeks of the federal election campaign as a spectator, Quebec Premier François Legault jumped in last week and is hoping to make a splash.
Tories try again to crack vote-rich Toronto-area ridings
For the Conservatives to win this election, analysts say they'll have to make significant inroads in the Greater Toronto Area, a vote-rich ring of suburban communities surrounding Toronto that the party was largely shut out of in the last federal election. Oakville is one of a handful of ridings in the region where polling suggests a dead heat between the Liberals and Conservatives, and where the Tories could rise or fall on election night. © Mark Gollom/CBC Oakville is one of a handful of ridings in the Greater Toronto Area where polling suggests a dead heat between the Liberals and Conservatives.
Legault is telling supporters to avoid the NDP, the Green Party and the Liberals, saying their talk of treading on provincial jurisdictions is dangerous.
"We have three leaders now that are proposing to get into Quebec's jurisdiction. We have three leaders saying that they may oppose, in court, Bill 21, three leaders that are not ready to give us more responsibility to choose new immigrants," Legault said last week.
Legault is pushing Quebec nationalists to vote for the Conservative Party. The Bloc Québécois, he says, can’t form a government.
Political scientist Daniel Béland says the support from the premier may be a morale boost for Erin O’Toole’s troops, but says it may not translate into seats. They may have started the campaign too far back.
“The question now is whether CAQ (Coalition Avenir Quebec) voters will actually align themselves with what the premier said, or will follow their own minds,” Béland says.
In Quebec City's fickle Beauport-Limoilou riding, three-way race is too close to call
OTTAWA – Door knocking in her central Quebec City riding of Beauport-Limoilou, Bloc Québécois MP Julie Vignola is disarmingly honest: she was surprised when she won her seat in 2019 and it would be a surprise if she won it again on Monday. “Seriously, I think it’ll be another surprise, specifically because of the historic dynamic of this riding,” she said as she walked from door to door of a low-income housing complex in Maizerets, a working-class sector at the northern tip of La Cité-Limoilou neighbourhood and just a few kilometres north of the provincial capital’s emblematic old city. Beauport-Limoilou has been fickle and can be a cruel mistress to incumbent MPs.
“I think we will have to watch the polls very closely in the last days before the vote to see whether this is having an effect.”
Even after criticism from Legault, the party leaders he went after have avoiding responding in kind, not for fear of angering the premier, but in case it turns off his supporters. Legault isn’t just one of the most popular premiers in the country. He’s one of the most popular ever.
“For the last 15 months, he’s had an approval rating close to 80 per cent, which we’ve never seen,” Bourque says.
The other wild card over the last week was the English language leaders’ debate and a controversial question from moderator Shachi Kurl, president of Angus Reid.
“You denied that Quebec has problems with racism, yet you defend legislation such as Bills 96 and 21 which marginalize religious minorities, Anglophones and Allophones. Quebec is recognized as a distinct society but for those outside the province, please help them understand why your party also supports these discriminatory laws," Kurl asked Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet.
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When polls close Monday night, results will provide answers to some of the most pressing questions of the federal election campaign.The CBC's Poll Tracker shows a statistical tie between the Liberals and Conservatives in the popular vote, but today is when that political cliché becomes the truth — the only poll that matters is the one on election night.
Legault called the question an attack on the Quebec nation, while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said it wasn’t acceptable or appropriate for a debate.
"As a Quebecer, I found that question really offensive,” Trudeau said Friday while campaigning in Hamilton.
The emotional backlash appears to have given the Bloc Québécois a bump in the polls. It’s up just over three per cent since the debate.
The issue may not be going away either. On Tuesday, Quebec’s National Assembly adopted a unanimous motion asking for a formal apology from the Debate Broadcast Group that organized the debate.
“We call for an end to the Quebec bashing, a phenomena which hinders the good functioning of the Canadian federation and which seeks to negatively generalize sensitive issues,” the motion reads.
A copy of the motion is to be sent to the members of the broadcasters' consortium, including Global News.
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