Liberal stronghold up for grabs in Jean-Talon byelection

Voters in the Quebec City riding will be heading to the polls Monday for the second time in less than two years, to elect a new MNA to replace Sébastien Proulx.

The Quebec City riding could go to the CAQ, according to recent poll

Voters in Quebec City's Sainte-Foy and Sillery neighborhoods will be voting in Monday's byelection to replace Liberal MNA Sébastien Proulx, who quit politics in April 2019. (Josh Grant/CBC)

Just 14 months after the last provincial election, voters in Quebec City's Jean-Talon riding are heading back to the polls on Monday.

The Liberals are hoping to fend off strong challenges from the Coalition Avenir Québec, as well as Québec Solidaire and the Parti Québécois.

In 2018, Liberal MNA Sébastien Proulx beat his CAQ opponent, Joëlle Boutin, by 1,362 votes (or 32.6 per cent compared 28.6 per cent).

But Proulx, a former education minister, quit politics less than a year later —  leaving an opening in the Liberal fortress.

The Liberals have won in every single election since the electoral map was drawn in 1966 — although the boundaries of the riding have changed significantly in that time.

It now encompasses part of the Montcalm neighbourhood, as well as Sillery and Sainte-Foy.

If the party loses Jean-Talon, the Liberals won't have any MNAs east of the greater Montreal area. 

Philippe Couillard won Roberval, in the Saguenay area, in 2018, but quit politics soon after the election.

Sébastien Proulx quit politics in August 2019, less than a year after he was re-elected in the Jean-Talon riding. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

A byelection followed Couillard's departure in December 2018, and the CAQ's Nancy Guillemette won with 55 per cent of the vote.

The Liberals' hopes of holding onto Jean-Talon lie with Gertrude Bourdon. Boutin is running again for the CAQ.

Bourdon is the former executive director of Quebec City's hospital network, the CHU de Québec, and was one of Couillard's star candidates in 2018.

She made a dramatic entrance into politics during that campaign — and was reportedly courted by the CAQ — before joining Couillard's team. But Bourdon ended up in third place in Jean-Lesage, behind Québec Solidaire and the CAQ.

'Liberal bastion'

Sillery resident Robert Dinan said the Liberals' time may be up in Jean-Talon.

"It's a Liberal bastion but I think that [Boutin] has a serious chance of winning," he said.

Dinan said he thinks voters in the riding are "obviously consistent", but also "conservative" — and "vote with their wallets."

Robert Dinan, who has already cast his ballot in the Jean-Talon by-election, thinks the Liberal party could lose the riding it has held onto for nearly 55 years. (Josh Grant/CBC)

About 20 per cent of voters cast ballots in the advanced polls.

Catherine Delfosse was one of them and said she didn't mind voting again, just 14 months after the provincial election.

"It gives us the opportunity to change our minds if we want," she said. "We had the opportunity to test the new government too, which was a great thing."

Strolling down Maguire Street, Rodolphe Gagnon agrees that a second vote gives citizens the chance to critique the government.

He decided to go with Parti Québécois candidate Sylvain Barrette, for the second time in a row.

"For me, it's the party that embodies the sovereignty movements, and I like the balance in the values and policies the party puts forward."

Meanwhile, Québec Solidaire MNAs went door-to-door on Thursday evening to rally support for their candidate, Olivier Bolduc, a teacher and environmental activist.

Polls say CAQ gaining ground

Things are looking good for the CAQ, and that was confirmed by a recent Léger poll, commissioned by the Journal de Montréal.

It found that 49 per cent of respondents in the Quebec City region would vote for the CAQ if another election were held today — only 17 per cent would choose the Liberals.

"I don't need to be a betting person to feel that the Coalition Avenir Québec is well poised to gain that seat from the Liberals," according to Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

Polls will be open on Monday, Dec. 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

List of candidates in the Jean-Talon byelection

  • Éric Barnabé — Quebec Conservative Party
  • Sylvain Barette — Parti Québécois
  • Stéphane Blais — Citoyens au pouvoir du Québec
  • Michel Blondin — Parti pour l'indépendance du Québec
  • Olivier Bolduc — Québec Solidaire
  • Gertrude Bourdon — Quebec Liberal Party
  • Joëlle Boutin — Coalition Avenir Québec
  • Emilie Coulombe — Green Party of Quebec
  • Ali Dahan — Independent
  • Stéphane Pouleur — Équipe autonomiste


  • A previous version of this story said Jean-Talon is the last Liberal riding outside the greater Montreal area. In fact, it was the only Liberal riding east of Montreal following the 2018 Roberval byelection.
    Dec 01, 2019 9:46 AM ET


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.