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Canada: Too close to call: Quebec ridings to watch on election night

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a group of people standing on top of a grass covered field: People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier is making waves in this campaign, garnering as much as 8 per cent support in some national polls, and 4.3 per cent in Quebec. He is in a tight race in Beauce riding against Richard Lehoux of the Conservatives. © Provided by The Gazette People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier is making waves in this campaign, garnering as much as 8 per cent support in some national polls, and 4.3 per cent in Quebec. He is in a tight race in Beauce riding against Richard Lehoux of the Conservatives.

Until late last week, polls were indicating the federal election results in this campaign in Quebec would look very similar to the last, in which the Liberals won 35 seats, the Bloc Québécois 32, the Conservatives 10 and the NDP just one.

But then Premier François Legault suggested a Conservative minority led by Erin O’Toole would be the best outcome for Quebec . And then the English leaders’ debate stirred controversy, with questions directed at Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet asking why he supports “discriminatory” Quebec laws like Bills 21 and 96, fanning the flames of outrage among many . Suddenly, the outlook for Quebec became much less clear.

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“In part because of what happened last week, I think the Bloc is gaining ground, and they had not been doing so well in the campaign up till this point compared to 2019,” said Daniel Béland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.

But Legault’s tacit support of the Conservatives could hamper the Bloc, Béland said, by drawing away some of their support in tight races, and possibly giving the vote to the Liberals.

Quebec is one of the few jurisdictions in Canada that has several three- and even four-party races, said James Kelley, a professor of political science at Concordia University.

“We don’t really have a national campaign in Quebec. We have a series of regional or provincial campaigns,” he said. “Once you get out of Montreal it does in many cases turn into a four-party contest, which are too close to call.”

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As of Wednesday, there were 14 races considered a “toss-up” by the poll tracking website 338Canada.com.

Here are some of the Quebec ridings to watch on election night Monday.

a person standing in front of a curtain:  Liberal incumbent Soraya Martinez Ferrada is in a three-way race to keep her seat in Hochelaga riding. © Justin Tang Liberal incumbent Soraya Martinez Ferrada is in a three-way race to keep her seat in Hochelaga riding.

Island of Montreal

Hochelaga

Densely populated and mercurial, Hochelaga is shaping up as one of the tightest races on the island of Montreal, with the Bloc Québécois looking to come back after Simon Marchand lost in 2019 by a scant 319 votes to Liberal incumbent Soraya Martinez Ferrada.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has visited the riding to bolster Martinez Ferrada’s chances, but both candidates will also have to contend with the NDP’s Catheryn Roy-Goyette, a housing activist in a riding where rising prices have put affordability top of mind.

The riding is known to swing, going Liberal in 2019, NDP in 2015 and 2011, and voting staunchly Bloc for two decades prior to the Orange Wave.

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Alexandre Boulerice wearing a suit and tie:  Alexandre Boulerice, NDP incumbent in the riding of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, has strong name recognition. © John Mahoney Alexandre Boulerice, NDP incumbent in the riding of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, has strong name recognition.

Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie

In part because it’s home to Alexandre Boulerice, the last NDP MP standing in Quebec, both the Bloc — with candidate Shophika Vaithyanathasarma — and the Liberals — with former Olympic hockey medallist and sports broadcaster Nancy Drolet — are exercising extra effort here.

Despite that, Béland predicts Boulerice should survive because of his strong name recognition and popularity in the riding, and his support from unions and Québéc solidaire. Boulerice won in 2019 with 42 per cent of the vote.

a man wearing a suit and tie:  Former actor Denis Trudel of the Bloc won the vote in Longueuil—Saint-Hubert riding by a narrow margin over Liberal Réjean Hébert in 2019. © Adrian Wyld Former actor Denis Trudel of the Bloc won the vote in Longueuil—Saint-Hubert riding by a narrow margin over Liberal Réjean Hébert in 2019.

Near Montreal

Longueuil—Saint-Hubert

This South Shore riding  was held by Pierre Nantel of the NDP, until he moved to the Greens in August 2019, two months before the federal election, saying the NDP wasn’t doing enough on climate change. Former actor Denis Trudel of the Bloc won the vote by a narrow margin over Liberal Réjean Hébert. Nantel came in a distant third.

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This time it’s Florence Gagnon of the Liberals taking on Trudel of the Bloc in a close race.

a woman wearing glasses:  Liberal incumbent Sherry Romanado is taking on Nathalie Boisclair of the Bloc Québécois in Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne riding. © Dave Sidaway Liberal incumbent Sherry Romanado is taking on Nathalie Boisclair of the Bloc Québécois in Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne riding.

Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne

The Liberals, who won the riding by 1,320 votes in 2019 over the Bloc, have a 3-per-cent lead going into these elections, considered too close to call. Incumbent Sherry Romanado is taking on Nathalie Boisclair of the Bloc Québécois this time.

Châteauguay—Lacolle

Until last week, the Liberals held a seemingly insurmountable lead, with their chances of winning listed at between 80 and 90 per cent throughout the campaign, as compared to 20 per cent for the Bloc on poll tracker website 338Canada. Following the English debate, the two parties are neck and neck. The Liberals, who won by only 639 votes in 2019 have a slight lead over the Bloc, with incumbent Brenda Shanahan, a former banker and financial analyst, facing Patrick O’Hara, an anglophone of Irish heritage with a lengthy background of organizing community events running for the Bloc.

Thérèse-De Blainville

Situated just north of Laval, the riding was won by Ramez Ayoub of the Liberals by about 3,000 votes in 2015, then the Bloc’s Louise Chabot, a nurse and union leader, took it in 2019 by roughly 3,500 votes. The two are squaring off once again. This week saw Chabot with a four-point advance over Ayoub, a former city councillor and mayor of Lorraine.

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Beauce

Maxime Bernier won handily from 2006 onward when he was with the Conservatives, then lost in 2019 when he formed the People’s Party of Canada after losing in his bid to become leader of the Conservative party. He lost by roughly 6,000 votes to Richard Lehoux of the Conservatives , and is facing Lehoux again this year.

But Bernier’s party is making waves in this campaign, garnering as much as 8 per cent support in some national polls, and 4.3 per cent in Quebec, resonating with voters who respond to his call for less government controls and an end to vaccine and mask mandates. That’s far beyond the 1.6 per cent of the vote he got in 2019.

Poll tracking site 338Canada has the Conservatives ahead by a narrow margin, but factoring in the margin of error, says it’s too close to call.

Shefford

The voters of this riding, which straddles the Eastern Townships and Montérégie regions, have chosen three different parties in the last three elections, going NDP in 2011, Liberal in 2015 and Bloc in 2019. Bloc candidate Andréanne Larouche won by less than 1,000 votes over Pierre Breton of the Liberals last time, and the two are squaring off again this year. Polls show them running neck and neck.

Trois-Rivières

This riding featured a tight three-way race between the Bloc, Liberals and the Conservatives in 2019, with the Bloc beating the Conservatives by exactly 2,000 votes, and the Liberals by fewer than 1,500 votes.

Poll tracker 338Canada has the Conservative candidate, Yves Lévesque, and the Bloc’s René Villemure each garnering 27 per cent of the vote and the Liberals’ Martin Francoeur 26 per cent, making the race too close to call.

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Jean-Yves Duclos holding a phone:  Liberal incumbent Jean-Yves Duclos is in a squeaker with Bloc candidate Louis Sansfaçon in the riding of Québec. © Adrian Wyld Liberal incumbent Jean-Yves Duclos is in a squeaker with Bloc candidate Louis Sansfaçon in the riding of Québec.

Quebec City region

Beauport—Limoilou

Beauport—Limoilou, north of Quebec City, went Bloc in 2019, Conservative in 2015 and NDP in 2011. This time around the polls have Bloc incumbent Julie Vignola in a dead heat with the Liberals (Ann Gingras) and Conservatives (Alupa Clarke), with 28 per cent support each.

Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix

Last week, the Conservatives’ chances of winning this riding east of Quebec City were listed at over 90 per cent versus the Bloc at roughly 10 per cent.

Following the English-language debate, the Bloc have moved up to 57 per cent, and the Conservatives are at 43 per cent. Conservative candidate Véronique Laprise has made slight gains in the last days on Bloc incumbent Caroline Desbiens.

Québec

Won by Liberal Jean-Yves Duclos, the current president of the federal Treasury Board, in 2019 by a mere 325 votes over the Bloc, the Liberals are now forecast to have slight odds of winning in this Quebec City riding, against the Bloc’s Louis Sansfaçon.

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