Spotlight on Montreal ridings: Papineau

The various incarnations of this central Montreal riding, currently held by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, have been red for decades. But the Bloc Québécois managed to wrestle it away from a cabinet minister less than a decade ago.

No shortage of challengers in Liberal stronghold currently held by party leader


The various incarnations of this central Montreal riding have been Liberal red for decades. But some of those wins came down to the wire, and the Bloc Québécois did manage to wrestle the riding away from a Liberal cabinet minister in 2006.

The former riding of Papineau–Saint-Michel was represented by a sole Liberal MP for 26 years. André Ouellet held several cabinet posts over more than two decades in office, including minister of foreign affairs. After he resigned in 1993, Ouellet was appointed to chair Canada Post. 

Three years later, his successor, Pierre Pettigrew, won the seat in a byelection. He also went on to hold several high-profile cabinet positions in his years in office, including foreign affairs. 

Justin Trudeau, with his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, first won his seat in the riding in 2008. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

In 2006, Pettigrew was defeated by the Bloc Québécois candidate. Two years earlier, he had held on to his seat by fewer than 500 votes. 

The riding only stayed in Bloc hands for two years.

In 2008, Justin Trudeau entered the political arena. The son of the late former prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and the current Liberal leader was his party's star candidate in Papineau. It was no landslide, however. Trudeau won his seat by slightly more than 1,200 votes. 

In 2011, Trudeau managed to hold back the Orange Wave that washed over the province, keeping the NDP at bay and securing the riding by more than 4,000 votes. 

Anne Lagacé Dowson ran for the NDP in 2008 in the Westmount-Ville-Marie riding. (Courtesy of Anne Lagacé Dowson)

This election, Trudeau will face off against some familiar faces in Montreal.

A journalist and one-time candidate for the NDP (in Westmount–Ville-Marie), Anne Lagacé Dowson will attempt to unseat the Liberal leader, propelled by the party's strong showing in Quebec in 2011. Most recently, Lagacé Dowson mounted an unsuccessful bid to chair the English Montreal School Board. 

The Bloc is running music teacher and composer Maxime Claveau, a longtime activist in the movement for Quebec sovereignty.

Also running in this riding is independent Chris Lloyd, originally slated to run as the Conservative Party candidate. He made national headlines after it was revealed that his candidacy was actually part of what he described as an art project.

Riding History

  • The riding was created in 1996, combining portions of the St-Denis and Papineau–St-Michel ridings.
  • The riding and its former incarnations have been mostly Liberal for nearly a century.
  • The Bloc won the riding in 2006, but it has gone to the Liberals since 2008, when the party first ran Justin Trudeau as a star candidate. 

Riding snapshot

Population: 108,975 (2013 Census) 

Mother tongue: French (47 per cent), English (5.7 per cent), Non-official languages (47.3 per cent; largest linguistic groups are Arabic, Greek, Italian and Spanish)

Average household income: $57,715 (2010 National Household Survey)

Results last election

Liberal 16,429
NDP 12,102 
Bloc Québécois 11,081
Conservative 2,021
Green 806
Marxist–Leninist 228
Communist League 95

Candidates 2015

See other key ridings


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