Quebec election: CAQ tries to crack western Quebec in final push

The latest polls show Coalition Avenir Québec could be headed toward a possible minority government. But Liberal strongholds in the Outaouais are unlikely to embrace the change rolling through Quebec.

Liberal strongholds unlikely to embrace the change rolling through Quebec

It's clear the CAQ candidate in Papineau, Mathieu Lacombe, benefits from name recognition from his days on television as he meets with voters in his riding. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

As the final campaign push began this weekend, the Coalition Avenir Québec candidates in the five ridings of western Quebec held a news conference in Gatineau with a message for anyone who wants change in the region.

"You have a unique chance on Monday to end 40 years of Liberal reign here in the Outaouais," said Papineau CAQ candidate Mathieu Lacombe.

"The Liberal MNAs in western Quebec have betrayed the region for too long."

Liberal strongholds tough to crack 

The CAQ has had a roller coaster ride in the polls during the campaign, with the latest suggesting the party is headed toward a possible minority government after Monday's vote.

But in the Liberal stronghold of the Outaouais, the CAQ has a steep hill to climb.

In 2014, the Liberals handily won each of the five western Quebec ridings — Pontiac, Gatineau, Hull, Chapleau and Papineau — with more than 50 per cent of the votes cast.

In the Pontiac riding, the Liberal candidate won with 76 per cent of the electorate.

"It would be hard to believe the CAQ could make inroads in the region with that level of Liberal support," said CBC poll analyst Éric Grenier.

CAQ has eye on Papineau

The Liberals came closest to losing a riding in the region in 2012, when the Liberal candidate in Papineau won with fewer than 200 votes against the Parti Québécois candidate.  

This time incumbent Liberal candidate Alexandre Iracà​ is once again facing a fight, this time against CAQ's Lacombe, with a poll taken in the middle of the campaign suggesting the race was neck and neck. 

"We're not taking anything for granted, because this election could come down to a few dozen votes," said Lacombe, a former TVA news announcer.

"The challenge will be getting out the vote."

Watch Chapleau election night

Another race to watch Monday will be the riding of Chapleau, which includes the eastern portion of the City of Gatineau.

A late campaign poll has the spread between the Liberal and CAQ candidates narrowing. 

The incumbent, Marc Carrière, won the riding by 58 per cent in 2014. 

The Liberals could have an advantage on election day, with a long established "get-out-the-vote" machine of volunteers in the region.

"I will be working until 8 o'clock on Monday to encourage voters to get out (and vote)," said Carrière.

As to whether the Outaouais electorate is best served by a Liberal MNA despite a projected CAQ government, he responded, "I'll answer that on Oct. 2."

PQ candidates are still hoping to keep their status as the "change" option for western Quebec voters, having come in second place in the ridings in 2014.

"I'm not looking at the polls," said the PQ's Marysa Nadeau, who's running in Hull.

She said she's been working full time on the campaign making sure voters understand the real issues.  

Voting hours for Monday's vote are between 9:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.