CAQ 'tidal wave' predicted for Quebec City region

"There is a desire for change," says Université Laval Prof. Réjean Pelletier. But for Quebec City voters in all but a couple of key ridings, he says, "change" translates into a shift to the right.

Only Taschereau and a couple of Liberal ridings could be in play for other parties, says political scientist

Quebec City's Taschereau riding is shaping up to be a four-way fight with the departure of the PQ's Agnès Maltais, who held the riding for 20 years. (Cathy Senay/CBC)

In 2015, when Stephen Harper and his Conservatives were trounced across Canada, they more than doubled their seat score in Quebec, taking five new seats  in the contrarian Quebec City region.

It's an anecdote Université Laval political scientist Réjean Pelletier shares to underscore that voters in the province's capital region are "more conservative, more traditionalist" than most Canadians.

"There is a desire for change," says Pelletier.

For Quebec City voters, change means a shift further right, to François Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec.  

Pelletier is predicting a CAQ "tidal wave" in the region, with Legault's party taking at least nine of 11 ridings.

The CAQ won two of those seats in the 2014 provincial election, while the Liberals won eight.

Going into this election, only the downtown Quebec City riding of Taschereau was held by the Parti Québécois.

The PQ is generally regarded in the region as "too left," said Pelletier, while "it's not a big jump to go from the Liberals to the CAQ."

Université Laval Prof. Réjean Pelletier, whose speciality is Quebec elections, says the CAQ could sweep most of the 11 Quebec City area ridings. (Cathery Senay/CBC)

Pelletier points to the ad campaign launched last spring by public sector unions, displaying a split image of Legault and Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard.

The poster was meant as a warning — that the CAQ and the Liberals are one and the same.

That's actually in keeping with the thinking of voters in the region, who seem ready to  switch from the Liberals to the CAQ "without much difficulty," Pelletier said.

4-way fight in Taschereau

Taschereau may be the hold-out in this 2018 race, although with the departure of PQ veteran Agnès Maltais, Pelletier says it is a four-way race.
Public sector unions ran a pre-election campaign depicting the CAQ and the Liberals as one and the same, however, Prof. Réjean Pelletier suggests people in the Quebec City region find that more reassuring than frightening. (Kevin Dougherty/CBC)

Maltais was first elected 20 years ago, in 1998, and won the inner-city riding five more times for the Parti Québécois.

Longtime "Agnès" supporter Réjeanne Cyr said this time she is hesitating between Diane Lavallée, a senior Quebec bureaucrat who once headed Quebec's nurses federation, and Catherine Dorion, running for the more left-leaning Québec Solidaire.

"I would like the Parti Québécois not to disappear, and Québec Solidaire is a good party, too," said Cyr.

Dorion, an actor, ran in Taschereau for pro-independence Option Nationale in 2014. With Option Nationale's merger into Québec Solidaire, the new party has a membership of 850 in Taschereau — its highest membership in any riding.

The CAQ candidate in Taschereau is first-timer Svetlana Solomykina, who has a science background and her own management consulting firm.

Liberal candidate Florent Tanlet is taking a second run at the riding. Tanlet, who came to Quebec from France as a student in 2003, ran against Maltais in 2014, losing by just 451 votes. 

Jean-Talon, Jean-Lesage also at play

The CAQ is campaigning hard in Jean-Talon, now held by Liberal Education Minister Sébastien Proulx.
Longtime Parti Québécois MNA Agnès Maltais, who won the riding of Taschereau six times since 1998, is not running in this election. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

"Jean-Talon has been Liberal since it was formed in 1971," Pelletier said. "It could remain Liberal."

The CAQ candidate in Jean-Talon is Joëlle Boutin, a political newcomer who was a professional pilot before studying public and business administration at Concordia University.

Another key riding at play is Jean-Lesage, won by the Liberals in 2014.

Liberal candidate Gertrude Bourdon was presented by Couillard as the next Liberal health minister, in a move aimed at suggesting the party is moving on from the controversial reforms of Gaétan Barrette in the health portfolio.

Pelletier does not think Bourdon, who was also courted by the CAQ, can win.

"She shopped around," he said. "People don't like that."

Health administrator Gertrude Bourdon is running for the Liberals in Jean-Lesage. Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard touts Bourdon as the next health minister. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)


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