Election day: 8 ridings to watch in Quebec
How Quebecers vote today could decide whether any party will have enough seats to form a majority
Quebec's Orange Wave astounded the rest of Canada in 2011 and rocketed the NDP into official opposition status for the first time in history.
But all bets are off in the final hours leading up to today's vote, with CBC's Poll Tracker suggesting the Liberals, the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois are all poised to take seats at the New Democratic Party's expense.
"It's looking now, because of two-way races in different regions of the province, like we could end up ...with a four-colour rainbow electoral map in the province," Christian Bourque, the executive vice-president at the polling firm Léger, told CBC News on Friday.
Here are some of the key ridings to watch in Montreal and across Quebec, when the polls close tonight at 9:30:
After wresting this central Montreal riding from the Liberals in a 2007 byelection, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair won handily in 2011, by more than 12,000 votes. However, if the Liberal surge in the most recent polls continues, few would be surprised if the riding went red once again.
"For 100 years, it's been a Liberal riding," said Bourque. "There's a very strong multicultural aspect to the riding of Outremont. A big Jewish community as well who you would think would vote Liberal."
The riding includes the artsy, hipster neighbourhood of Mile End, home to many students, whose support Mulcair can likely count on once again – providing they turn out at the polls.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's first stop after the campaign launch on Aug. 2 was the Montreal riding of Mount Royal – a Liberal stronghold the Conservatives came within 2,240 votes of winning in 2011.
The home riding of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Mount Royal was represented by the eminent human rights lawyer, former justice minister Irwin Cotler, from 1999 until his retirement this year.
Despite Cotler's personal track record as a global expert on anti-Semitism, Harper's strong pro-Israel stance has resonated in the riding, where Jewish voters account for at least a third of the electorate.
Both the Liberal candidate this time – Côte-Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather – and his Conservative opponent, former Côte-Saint-Luc mayor Robert Libman, have deep roots in the Jewish community, and Housefather has underscored what he says is Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's "unequivocal support for Israel" at every turn.
Jewish voters in the riding say that single issue – the degree of support for Israel – is dividing families. Will it sway enough votes to unseat the Liberals?
This riding that straddles the trendy Plateau-Mont-Royal and the eastern end of downtown Montreal was the heartland of the Bloc Québécois until 2011, when the NDP's Hélène Laverdière won it by some 5,000 votes.
The riding's MP for 21 years, Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe resigned the night of his defeat – the party he led for 14 years reduced to just four seats from 47 at dissolution.
Duceppe was enticed back from retirement in June, just weeks before the Aug. 2 election call, returning to a party slumped in the polls and in disarray. Political analysts predicted Duceppe's return would be a game-changer, at the expense of the NDP in Quebec.
At 68, Duceppe is the eldest of the federal party leaders, however, he showed Quebecers he still had the physical stamina for the job – pedalling around Quebec early in the campaign with the man he replaced as BQ leader, Mario Beaulieu.
Midway through the campaign, the Bloc stalled in the polls, an editorial cartoon caricatured the wheels having fallen off that bike.
Then came the niqab issue – and a targeted attack against the NDP for leader Tom Mulcair's position backing a woman's right to cover her face while taking the Canadian citizenship oath.
More than any other, that issue may have soured the NDP's popularity in Quebec.
The question now for Duceppe is whether he can win back his own seat and revive his party. Defeat will surely mean a return to retirement – and an uncertain future once again for the Bloc Québécois.
This central Montreal riding, bordered by the affluent ridings of Mount Royal to the west and Outremont to the south, is one of the poorest, most multiethnic and most densely populated ridings in the country.
Papineau has seen many boundary changes over the years but has nearly always been a safe seat for the Liberals, the traditional haven of new immigrants.
It's been the home riding of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau since 2008. Trudeau took the riding from the Bloc Québécois, winning by just 1,200 votes in 2008, then more than tripling that margin in 2011.
His NDP opponent, journalist Anne Lagacé-Dowson, went into this race betting the New Democratic Party's early lead in the polls could be enough to knock Trudeau out of his seat. With the Liberals on the rise and the NDP trending down in the final lead-up to Oct. 19, that now looks like anything but a sure bet.
The Bloc's Maxime Claveau will be hoping to come up the middle, should the vote split.
Sitting Liberal MP and former astronaut Marc Garneau is running in this riding that encompasses the affluent City of Westmount, the Montreal borough of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and the City of Montreal West.
It's an affluent riding populated by highly educated voters, a majority of them anglophones: Nearly half of this riding's electors have a university degree.
This is traditionally Liberal territory, although Garneau held the riding under its old Westmount boundaries by a mere 642 votes in 2011, nearly losing to the NDP in the Orange Wave. The New Democrats went into this race confident they could take the seat this time, putting up a strong candidate in James Hughes, the popular former head of the Old Brewery Mission.
Richard Sagala, an entrepreneur running for the Conservatives, has kept a low profile in recent weeks, after he was roundly criticized for remarks he made about aboriginal Canadians and the territory of Nunavut, suggesting that "violence there is comparable to South Africa."
Should the Liberals win enough seats to form a government, look for a spot in cabinet for Marc Garneau. An engineer by training, the first Canadian to go into outer space led the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 until 2006. He ran for the Liberal leadership in 2013, formally stepping down a month before a leadership vote was to be held, to make way for Justin Trudeau.
- Spotlight on Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount
- Voter's Voice in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount
- See the riding map here
This new Montreal riding, which merges much of the NDP-held Ahuntsic with part of what was the Liberal-held riding of Saint-Laurent–Cartierville, will be a true test for the polling trends leading into today's race.
The Ahuntsic portion of the riding proved to be a tight race in 2011, with the sitting Bloc Québécois MP Maria Mourani pulling ahead of the NDP candidate by just 708 votes. The Liberals were just 1,114 votes further back.
This time, Mourani is running for the NDP. After parting ways with the BQ over its support for the Parti Québécois's proposed secular charter in 2013, Mourani crossed the floor and joined the NDP caucus in 2014.
Mourani's Liberal opponent is Mélanie Joly, the political neophyte who took on former Liberal MP Denis Coderre in the 2013 Montreal mayoral race and came a close second.
The redistributed riding of Brossard–Saint-Lambert could prove to be a weathervane for Quebec in this race.
Hoang Mai, the NDP incumbent under the old boundaries of Brossard-La Prairie, beat the sitting Liberal MP Alexandra Mendès handily in the Orange Wave of 2011. The two are running against each other once again this time, and both acknowledge it is a tight race.
Along with the rest of the 450 area code, this is one of the ridings in which the Bloc Québécois hopes to come up the middle. The Bloc held the Saint-Lambert portion of the riding in 2004, 2006 and 2008. The BQ candidate in Brossard–Saint-Lambert is Suzanne Lachance, a retired human resources manager.
The Conservatives are hoping to take back this Quebec City riding they lost to a political neophyte when the NDP swept the province in 2011. Former Coalition Avenir Québec MNA Gérald Deltell left provincial politics to run for Stephen Harper's party.
The one-time popular television personality is pitted against a new NDP candidate, Daniel Caron, a Canadian diplomat who served as the Canadian ambassador to Ukraine.
Running for the Bloc Québécois, the party that finished third in 2011, is lawyer Ronald Sirard.
Liberal candidate Youri Rousseau was a longtime member of the Canadian Armed Forces who served as chief of aerial support for Afghanistan operations at the Camp Mirage base.