Montreal

Fielding fresh candidates, Liberals poised to hang on to western Montreal seats

For the first time in decades, the majority of ridings in the western part of Montreal have new candidates running, with many longtime MNAs choosing not to seek re-election.

Despite departures of 6 longtime Liberal MNAs, making inroads may be uphill battle for CAQ

Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard has a new slate of candidates running in six western Montreal ridings, places where CAQ Leader François Legault hopes to make inroads. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

For the first time in decades, the majority of ridings in the western part of Montreal have new candidates running, with many longtime MNAs choosing not to seek re-election.

Six of nine Liberals who have consistently won in their ridings have decided to leave politics.

All six of them have been Liberal strongholds since the ridings were created, many even before changes to the electoral map.

But even though François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec started this campaign with a lead in the polls, stealing those seats from the Liberals won't be easy.

"What we're seeing is probably an erosion of Liberal support in those ridings but not yet the indication that they stand to lose, or could potentially lose those seats," says Christian Bourque, executive vice-president at Léger.

He says the erosion is in part due to fatigue with the Liberals, who have been in power for most of the past 15 years, which means there is an opportunity for the CAQ to court younger voters and allophones.

Six of nine Liberals who have consistently won in their ridings have decided to leave politics (CBC)

Not much choice for Anglos

In Jacques-Cartier, the Liberals are hoping to keep it in the family. Geoff Kelley has held the seat for for 24 years. Now his son, Greg Kelley is hoping to take up the reins.

The CAQ is hoping to foil those plans — its candidate in the riding, Karen Hilchey, was once a senior cabinet staffer for Geoff Kelley.

Bourque says while some Anglo-Quebecers are less-than-happy with the Liberals, most won't make the leap to the CAQ.

"If Legault wins, what happens to the Liberals? We still need a fairly strong Liberal party to represent us [anglophones] in the National Assembly," Bourque says, putting himself in their shoes.

Philippe Couillard has often reached out to the anglophone community, and has promised, if elected, his party would not abolish school board elections.

"English-speaking Quebecers are part of our history and what we are," he said at the announcement that anglophone Jennifer Maccarone would run as the Liberal candidate in Westmount–Saint-Louis.

"Their rights are fundamental, as was their contribution to the history of Quebec."

While Legault has said the issue of sovereignty is off the table, his past as a Parti Québécois health minister causes some worry.

He's also noted his government would abolish school board elections.

Still, at a pre-campaign stop in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Legault tried to convince voters there is an alternative to the Liberals — the CAQ.

Western Montreal ridings without incumbents

  • Jacques-Cartier.
  • Nelligan.
  • Marquette.
  • Marguerite-Bourgeoys.
  • Saint-Laurent.
  • Westmount–Saint-Louis.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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