In Quebec, no party has an easy road to victory
The path to victory in national elections always passes through Quebec. The only question is whether the province with 78 seats to offer comes with roadblocks or an expressway.
Two years ago, a resurgent Bloc Québécois played a big role in preventing Justin Trudeau and the Liberals from winning a second majority. Antonia Maioni, professor of political science at McGill University, said she believes the province is shaping up to be a key battleground again.
In an interview broadcast on CBC on Saturday The House, Maioni said three-way races are a common feature in many ridings in suburban Quebec – some of which were decided in 2019 by less than 2,000 votes.
“So there are, in fact, at least a dozen seats that could change hands,” she said.
The ‘joker’ in the deck
“The two most important areas, I think, to watch right now are the areas around the city of Montreal. It is therefore what is called the North Shore and the South Shore, which are very rapidly growing suburbs, as well as Quebec City. The Quebec region is often the wild card in political competitions in Quebec.
Horseback riding splits. Regional differences. Quebec is not only a distinct society, it offers a mixed of problems.
Party support in the province can never be taken for granted. In 2011, Quebec was the epicenter of the “Orange Wave” of the NDP. Four years later, it was the Liberals’ turn to win the most seats. Two years ago, the Liberals and the Bloc were neck and neck in both the popular vote share and the number of seats.
Competition between these parties remains fierce.
Take Shefford, a largely rural riding in the Eastern Townships. Since 2011, the riding has been won by the NDP, the Liberals and the Bloc. This year’s race features a rematch between Bloc candidate Andreanne Larouche, who won just under 900 votes, and Liberal Pierre Breton.
Supply management in the dairy industry is an important issue here. But also climate change. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has been to the riding before, repeating his election mantra that this is a big ideas campaign.
“We knew when Canadians elected us in 2015 that we had to go further, stronger and more concretely in the fight against climate change and that is exactly what we did,” he told reporters when stopping.
For the Conservatives, the focus is on expanding the party’s presence beyond the 10 seats it won two years ago in and around Quebec City.
The party saw a rise in opinion polls under Erin O’Toole. Perhaps that is why the Conservative leader found himself at the center of one of the liveliest discussions during Thursday’s French-language debate, broadcast by TVA, on the issue of child care.
WATCH: Party leaders clash in France’s first 2021 campaign debate
The Quebec day care system is the model of the day care system proposed by the Liberals at $ 10 a day. Trudeau and Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet both asked O’Toole if he would honor the deal with Prime Minister François Legault’s government that the province would receive its share of $ 6 billion.
O’Toole’s platform promises to replace the Liberal plan with a program that gives money directly to parents. Thursday evening, he never answered the question directly.
Conservatives “target … suburban voters”
Maioni called this a “weak moment” for the Tory leader.
“O’Toole’s message was that the money would come another way, but he didn’t say how. will encourage and help families in the suburbs, ”she said.
“And I think that’s the message we should always remember. The Conservatives are targeting their message in Quebec. … Montreal and to those voters of Quebec as well.
Dan Robertson is the Conservatives’ chief strategist in this campaign. In a round table also broadcast on Saturday on The House, he said O’Toole was the main target for the other chiefs in the first French language debate.
“This is Erin O’Toole’s first time on this kind of stage,” said Robertson. “So I think he’ll just want to sound like a prime minister, talk about things that are important to Canadians and not get down on rabbit holes over things that are not important to people.”
With the campaign now at its midpoint and with two more debates slated for next week, NDP campaign manager Jennifer Howard said the goal over the next two weeks is to reach as many voters as possible on issues such as housing affordability.
“Really right now it’s about focusing on a message that works with voters who are open to hearing it, finding where those voters are and making sure they hear from you.” , she said. “And that is what we will continue to do.”
Two weeks is a long time in politics. The polls will change. Liberal campaign co-chair Navdeep Bains said nothing he had seen so far required a change in strategy.
“So we’ll continue to focus on our overall strategy, which is to get the message out around the clear contrast between us and the alternative, which for us is the Conservative Party in many ridings across the country.”
But this is not true for many of the 78 ridings in Quebec, where there is more than one alternative – and more than one contrast to draw.