Races to watch: Quebec
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BQ MP Maria Mourani stole this East Montreal seat from Liberal MP Eleni Bakopanos in 2006 but it was painfully close, and the Liberals will be working hard this time to take it back. Now that they're in government and working hard for nationalist votes, could rising Tory fortunes make this a three-way fight?
Sylvie Boucher was a complete unknown when she stole this Quebec City-area riding for the Conservatives from the Bloc in 2006 by a margin of less than two per cent of the vote. Nobody saw her coming then, but the Bloc will be targeting her seat now, for a rematch.
This seat is likely to be representative of the new battle in Quebec — a Bloc incumbent fighting off a surging Conservative. Watch this riding to suddenly swing Tory if Conservative fortunes rise sufficiently during the campaign. The ADQ has had success here in the past, suggesting its nationalist voters are willing to consider their options.
Former Liberal cabinet minister Jacques Saada tumbled hard in this Longueuil seat in 2006, falling victim to vote-splitting with the emergent Conservatives. Now that Marcel Lussier holds the seat for the Bloc, can he defend it?
Daniel Petit bagged a close one for the Tories in the Quebec City area last time out, bumping off the media-friendly former Bloc MP Richard Marceau in his wake. Watch for another close two-way fight between the Conservatives and the Bloc.
How times change. In a region once thought to be a Bloc stronghold, Robert Bouchard now holds the only remaining BQ seat in the Saguenay. It was a decent three-way fight last time with Andre Harvey running for the Liberals. Can the Conservative pitch woo more voters from the nationalist heartland into the Tory fold?
Bloquiste Richard Nadeau defeated Liberal MP Francoise Boivin to take this Outaouais seat in 2006, and he'll be facing her again, but this time as a star NDP candidate, following her public falling out with the Liberal party. Since the Liberals still have a base in the riding, and the Tories are fighting hard across Quebec now, this could be a rare four-way fight.
Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez survived the Bloc deluge in this Montreal seat in 2006. His problem now? The margin of victory last time was less than four per cent, and with the Conservatives' enhanced pitch for the Quebec nationalist vote, the waters are likely to be muddied even more in this campaign.
Incumbent Liberal MP Marcel Proulx narrowly held off the BQ here in 2006 and will be closely tied to Stéphane Dion's fortunes in 2008. The NDP don't intend to make things easy for them and have nominated former NDP leadership candidate Pierre Ducasse who could pull more support than this riding's offered up in the past.
Thierry St-Cyr established a beachhead for the Bloc on the West Island of Montreal when he picked off former Liberal cabinet minister Liza Frulla in the last campaign. As with other Quebec ridings, however, turf that used to see a two-way battle could see a three-way fight this time.
Liberal incumbent Raymonde Folco held off the Bloc in this Laval riding last time, and she'll need to work hard to do it again. The Conservatives showed promising strength here in 2006, and the more they split the federalist vote, the harder it gets for the Liberals to be re-elected.
Paul Martin's former riding is pre-disposed to fall into the Liberal column. But without a star Liberal candidate to brighten his long shadow, could a new dynamic emerge in this west Montreal seat?
When former Liberal cabinet minister Hélène Scherrer's support fell away in 2006, her riding became a down-to-the wire fight between the Bloc and the then-surprisingly strong Conservatives. Tory MP Luc Harvey hasn't had much profile since winning this Quebec City-area seat in the province's tightest race, but the Tories need to hold it.
NDP MP Thomas Mulcair turned conventional wisdom on its head in the 2007 byelection here, stealing a presumed Liberal stronghold from Stéphane Dion's candidate and giving Jack Layton a toehold in the province of Quebec. However, one byelection result does not a federal campaign make, and the Liberals have found a bigger name — Sébastien Dhavernas, an actor — to run here this time. Was his election about Mulcair personally, or is there something real going on with the NDP in Quebec?
The rest of Canada will be watching, but only East Montreal voters get to decide whether Pierre Trudeau's eldest son Justin will enter the House of Commons. The competition is formidable: sitting BQ MP Vivian Barbot played giant killer in the last election when she bumped off foreign minister Pierre Pettigrew by nearly a thousand votes.
The Conservative breakthrough in Quebec in 2006 arguably started in Pontiac, where Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon bumped off the Liberals and held off the Bloc to win a three-way race with a bit of wiggle room to spare. Cannon has faced a few difficult local issues since, however. And his party and cabinet responsibilities leave less time to tend to and fight the fires at home.
A 2007 byelection foretold the new lay of the land in this riding, a two-way fight between the Bloc and the Conservatives. The Tories were very pleasantly surprised to come so close in a byelection, but can they get over the top in a general election?
Jean Charest's former federal seat was a landslide win for the BQ in 2006. But the political comeback of Andre Bachand has given Tory fortunes in this riding a boost, even though Bachand's previous seat was actually the one next door. The premier's rumoured to have given his blessing to some of his organizers working for the Tories here. Could it make the difference?
Michael Fortier had to pick a riding, and this is it. He resigned his Senate seat — but held onto his cabinet post — to run in this riding. Regular Politics panelist and incumbent Bloc MP Meili Faille has no intention of going quietly. And the Liberals still have a real presence here, setting the stage for another three-way battle.
The four candidates in this riding know each other well by now: they've been campaigning since the byelection here was called earlier in the summer. Former Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau should hold this for the Liberals, but the NDP candidate — former CBC Radio host Anne Legacé-Dowson — could make him very uncomfortable in the process. Should the Liberals lose here, it will be a sign that the Liberal party in Quebec is in dire straits, indeed.