|Location of both ridings in Montreal|
Voters in two provincial ridings in Quebec head to the polls today to elect new Members of the National Assembly of Quebec in by-elections. Both ridings- Viau and Outremont - are considered safe Liberal seats, and both are located on the Island of Montreal. Viau was vacated in August when its MNA, Emmanuel Dubourg, resigned to run for the federal Liberals in neighbouring Bourassa in a by-election that was in-turn caused by the resignation of Denis Coderre to run for mayor of Montreal. Outremont was also vacated in August upon the resignation of MNA Raymond Bachand. New Liberal leader Philippe Coullard, who sits outside the legislature, will be contesting the seat. Following tradition, the two other main parties in Quebec (the governing PQ and the third place CAQ) will be sitting that by-election out.
Due to both seats being considered safe ridings for the Liberals, there has not been much focus on these by-elections. It will be interesting, however, to see how well the PQ does in Viau, as their popularity has taken a hit since winning a minority government last year. One particular issue, their proposed Quebec Charter of Values (which would make the wearing of religious paraphernalia illegal in government work places), has created much controversy, and may prove to be quite unpopular in the multicultural riding.
Viau is located in the Montreal Borough of Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension. It consists of all of the Saint-Michel District, and most of Francois-Perrault District (east of Papineau Avenue). Most of the riding falls within the former municipal limits of the City of Saint-Michel, which was annexed by Montreal in 1968. The riding is very ethnically diverse, being home to not only French Canadians, but Haitians, Italians, Arabs, Asians and Hispanics. Federally, the riding is split between three districts: Papineau, Saint-Leonard—Saint-Michel and a small part in Ahuntsic.
- J.-H. Bellerose, Cons. (1867-1875)
- L.-O. Loranger, Cons. (1875-1882)
- P.-E. Leblanc, Cons. (1882-1883)
- Amedee Gaboury, Liberal (1883-1884)
- P.-E. Leblanc, Cons. (1884-1908)
- J.W. Levesque, Liberal (1908-1919)
- J.-O. Renaud, Cons. (1919-1931)
- Jos. Filion, Liberal (1931-1935)
- F.-J. Leduc, Cons./U. N./Liberal (1935-1948)
- Omer Barriere, U. N. (1948-1956)
- Leopold Pouliot, U. N. (1956-1960)
- Jean Meunier, Liberal (1960-1966)
- Fernand Picard, Liberal (1966-1973)
- Fernand Picard, Liberal (1973-1976) continued
- C-A. Lefebvre, P. Q. (1976-1981)
- Wm. Cusano, Liberal (1981-2007)
- Emmanuel Dubourg, Liberal (2007-2013)
Since the Liberals won the seat back from the PQ in 1985, the riding has been a safe Liberal and a safe Federalist seat. Since 1985, only once have the Liberals not won a majority of the vote in this riding, and that was in the last election. Even then, Dubourg defeated his nearest rival, PQ candidate Gabriel Arbieto Munayco by nearly 6000 votes, or 47% to 24%. In that election, both the CAQ's candidate Walid Hadid and QS candidate Genevieve Fortier-Moreau ate into traditional Liberal support, winning about 12% of the vote each. In Quebec's two sovereignty referendums, the “NO” side won easily in Viau. In 1980, NO won 66%-34%, while in 1995, it won 69%-31%.
|Viau in 2012. Map credit: MaxQue, uselectionatlas.org|
In the 2012 election, Dubourg dominated the Saint-Michel District of the riding, winning all but three of the district's polls. It was in this area where the Liberals had their best district, poll #64, where they won 79% of the vote. This poll is in the 2nd & 6th Ave areas. The PQ was stronger in the south end of the riding, in Francois-Perrault District, specifically in the southwest corner. It was in this area that the PQ scored their best poll, #98 in the De Lorimier / De Bordeaux / Belanger / Jean-Talon area, with Arbieto Munayco winning 41%. Federally, despite the riding covering three federal electoral districts, the area shows a similar political geography. In the 2011 federal election, the Liberals did the best in Saint-Michel, while the NDP did strong in the southwest corner of the riding (getting votes from traditional BQ/PQ areas).
Running for the Liberals is David Heurtel, former CEO of Montreal's Olympic Park. Heurtel is also a former advisor to former PQ Premier Bernard Landry, but Heurtel has explained that his position (on separation, presumably) has “evolved”. Running for the PQ is Tania Longpre, a French teacher for immigrants. The CAQ is running lawyer Jamilla Lebouef of BNP Paribas. Running again for the QS is special education teacher Genevieve Fortier-Moreau, who also ran in 2012.
With PQ popularity much lower than it was a year ago, it seems unlikely they will make any gains in this by-election. In fact, with their controversial Charter of Values sure to anger residents of this multicultural riding, they are sure to lose much of their support; in fact, it's possible they may lose their 2nd place standing in the riding. The QS could perhaps surpass them, or even the CAQ (which has seen a drop in their support as well). The overall split in the anti-Liberal vote may lead to a large-percentage victory for Heurtel, and could lead to him winning more polls than Dubourg did in 2012.
The riding of Outremont is also located in Montreal, and contains all of Outremont Borough, most of Cote-des-Neiges District (south of Cote-Sainte-Catherine), part of Snowdon District (south of Cote-Sainte-Catherine and east of Autoroute 15) and part of Mile-End District (west of Ave. de l'Esplanade). Cote-des-Neiges and Snowdon are in the Borough of Cote-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grace while Mile-End is in Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough. Each of the three boroughs gives the riding a different character: Outremont is fairly wealthy, with a large Hasidic Jewish population, Mile-End is a neighbourhood of artists and culture, while Cote-des-Neiges is an ethnically diverse area with a high student population. Federally, most of the riding can be found in the federal riding of Outremont. Parts of Snowdon and Cote-des-Neiges are in the federal ridings of Mount Royal and Westmount—Ville-Marie.
- Louis Beaubien, Cons. (1867-1886)
- J.-O. Villeneuve, Cons. (1886-1887)
- Chas. Champagne, Liberal (1888-1890)
- J.-O. Villeneuve, Cons. (1890-1897) 2nd time
- D.J. Decaire, Liberal (1897-1904)
- J.L. Decaire, Liberal (1904-1912)
- C.A. Smart, Cons. (1912-1936)
- W.R. Bulloch, U. N. (1936-1939)
- Henri Groulx, Liberal (1939-1953)
- G.-E. Lapalme, Liberal (1953-1966)
- Jerome Choquette, Liberal (1966-1976)
- Andre Raynauld, Liberal (1976-1980)
- Pierre Fortier, Liberal (1980-1989)
- Gerald Tremblay, Liberal (1989-1996)
- P.-E. Laporte, Liberal (1996-2003)
- Yves Seguin, Liberal (2003-2005)
- Raymond Bachand, Liberal (2005-2013)
The riding has been held by the Liberals since its creation as Montreal-Outremont in 1939. The seat has been generally a safe Liberal seat since then, although the PQ has come somewhat close on a handful of occasions. The closest the Liberals have come to losing the seat since 1939 was in 1973, when Liberal Andre Raynauld defeated PQ candidate Pierre Harvey by 2400 votes, or 45%-37%. Despite the riding being a “safe seat” the Liberals have only received a majority of the vote once in the last 4 elections. Bachand's 42% mark in the last election was the lowest the Liberals have ever received in this riding since 1939. His nearest rival, Roxanne Gendron, however, received just 23% of the vote, which was that party's worst showing in the riding since 1970. These vote share drops came at the expense of a strong QS campaign by Edith Laperle, who won 18% of the vote. The CAQ candidate Claude Michaud won 14% of the vote, which was much higher than its predecessor party, the ADQ, ever won in the riding. In the two sovereignty referendums, the riding has been expectedly federalist. In 1996, the “NO” side won 66%-34%, while NO previously won by a similar margin in 1980, 65%-35%.
|Outremont in 2012. Map credit: MaxQue, uselectionatlas.org|
In the 2012 election, the Liberals received the most votes in each of the three parts of the riding. However, each of the three parts have unique political charactaristics. The Liberals were strongest in the west end of the riding in the Cote-des-Neiges / Snowdon area. In that region, they won 51% of the vote, and in every polling division. Their strongest poll was in this area, poll #2 on Bonavista Ave. in Snowdon, where they won 81%. In Outremont and in Mile-End, the Liberals won just one third of the vote. In Outremont Borough, the PQ finished a strong second. Their strongest poll came in the borough, in #102 by the Outremont Metro Station. The PQ won 46% there. Quebec Soildaire was especially strong in Mile-End, losing the popular vote there by just 14 votes. QS's strongest poll came in Mile-End, winning 42% in poll #142, which is on Park Ave. bewtween St. Joseph and Mount Royal Ave. The PQ finished third in Mile-End, winning just two polls. The CAQ was strongest in wealthy Outremont, but won no polls.
2012 results by borough (calculated by MaxQue, uselectionatlas.org):
|CDN - NDG||Outremont||Plateau-Mont-Royal|
Federally, much of the riding went NDP in the last election due to the fact that most of the provincial riding of Outremont can be found in the federal riding of Outremont, which is represented by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. However, the part of the riding that falls within the Mount Royal federal electoral district (the area around Mackenzie King Park) went Liberal, but the NDP still did well, considering that riding is traditionally a safe Liberal seat. Also, the part of Outremont provincial riding located in the federal riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie was less NDP friendly than the rest of Outremont, but it still went NDP.
Both the PQ and the CAQ will not be running candidates in this by-election. Both parties have respected parliamentary tradition by not running any candidates against the Liberal leader, Philippe Couillard who is the Liberal candidate. Couillard was previously an MNA for neighbouring Mont-Royal from 2003 to 2007 and then represented Jean-Talon in Quebec City from 2007 to 2008. He then resigned from political office and was later appointed to the Security Intelligence Review Committee. He became Liberal leader in March, and has led the party from outside the legislature since. His main opposition will come from Quebec Solidaire, who has opted not to follow parliamentary tradition, but instead will at least give voters a choice on today's ballot. Running once again for QS is Edith Laperle, a labour union consultant. There are five other candidates running, of those the Greens and Option Nationale will each perhaps have the best chance of finishing third. Option Nationale is a hardline separatist party that finished fifth in 2012 with 2%. The Greens didn't run in 2012 in the riding, but did get a respectable 6% of the vote in the 2008 election, ahead of the ADQ candidate. Plus, they are running their new leader in the riding, Alex Tyrrell. The Greens could take away some QS voters who couldn't vote Green in 2011.
In all likelihood Quebec Solidaire, as the only real alternative to Couillard, will see their vote share dramatically increase from the 18% they received in 2012. If they get enough PQ voters, they could give Couillard a run for his money. After all, the combined PQ and QS result from 2011 was just 79 votes less than the Liberal candidate. However, the CAQ vote will likely mostly go to the Liberals, ensuring their victory. Geographically, expect the QS to easily win Mile-End, while the Liberals will win Cote-des-Neiges. The real race will be in Outremont Borough.
I'd like to personally thank MaxQue, a poster on the uselectionatlas.org Forum (and former Montrealer) who made the maps (using my colour scale as well!), as well as identifying which polls each party did the strongest in, and also calculating the results by borough in Outremont.
Polls close in both ridings at 8pm Eastern.