Quebec is on course to be a two-way race between the Liberals and Conservatives in the 2019 federal election, say strategists, and the Québec City region is likely to be a hotly contested battleground amongst the federal parties.
Despite the reunion of the Bloc Québécois on Sept. 17—with five MPs who had split from the party in February to launch their own venture, Québec Debout, and returned to the once-again 10-member fold last week—Carl Vallée, a partner with Hatley Strategy Advisers and a former Conservative staffer, said he thinks the party remains a “spent force in Quebec.”
“The debate has really moved on from the old constitutional issue, and I really foresee that in 2019 it will be a two-way race in Quebec,” between the Liberal and Conservative parties for Quebec’s 78 federal seats, he said.
“The Conservative Party of Canada has really made a conscious effort to show openness towards Quebecers and it seems to be paying off right now in the polls for them.”
TACT Intelligence-conseil’s Mylène Dupéré, a former Liberal staffer, also said she expects a “two-way race” in Quebec in 2019, and noted that provincially the Parti Québécois, which is closely tied to the federal Bloc, has “put aside” the issue of Quebec’s independence in the ongoing provincial election, set to take place Oct. 1.
It remains to be seen how the Bloc Québécois’ 2019 campaign will shape up—the party will elect a new leader in early March—but last June, party members voted 65 per cent in favour of the idea that the Bloc should support Quebec independence in its daily actions.
Asked about the Bloc’s hopes in the next federal election last week, interim leader Mario Beaulieu (La Pointe-de-l’Île, Que.) was optimistic, saying his thinks it could win 20 or 30 seats in 2019, pointing to the Montreal region, Manicouagan, Gaspésie, Abitibi, and central Quebec as areas where the party enjoys stronger support.
Mr. Beaulieu said he thinks former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier (Beauce, Que.), who has vowed to run candidates across Canada under the banner of his new People’s Party of Canada in 2019, will help the Bloc “by dividing Conservative votes.”
While Mr. Vallée said he thinks Mr. Bernier is unlikely to pick up any seats in La Belle Province, he conceded the former Conservative leadership candidate could help split the right vote across the country in 2019, including, to some degree, in Quebec, to the advantage of the Liberals.
“There’s this conception that because his name is Maxime Bernier that he’s going to do well within Quebec because he’s obviously a francophone Quebecer, but people have to understand that his very marginal support comes mainly from the libertarians out in Alberta,” said Mr. Vallée.
He noted that during the Conservative leadership race, now-Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) had a better showing than Mr. Bernier in Quebec, including in Mr. Bernier’s own riding of Beauce, largely attributed to the latter’s staunchly anti-supply management position.
As for the NDP—which in 2011 saw historic wins in Quebec as part of the ‘Orange Crush’ that saw 53 MPs elected in the province, since reduced to 15 in the last federal election—Karl Bélanger, a former NDP national director, said he thinks “there are no safe NDP seats in Quebec” in 2019.
“It will be very difficult for the NDP to keep all its current seats, let alone win new ones,” he said. “The current landscape with a reunited Bloc and Maxime Bernier with his new party and a resurging Conservative Party and struggling New Democrats—those are the ingredients for a very successful campaign by the Liberal Party in Quebec, and that’s really the party that’s benefitting from what’s happening on the ground across the province.”
Ms. Dupére noted that last election was the Liberals’ best showing in Quebec since Mr. Trudeau’s father was prime minister. The Liberals won 40 seats in Quebec in 2015, the most since the 1980 federal election when it all but swept the province’s then-75 seats, winning 74 in all. (For what it’s worth, this election was prior to the founding of the Bloc Québécois in 1991.)
“There’s potential for them to do better than that” next election, she said, in particular around Québec City where the party made gains in 2015, “especially if the Conservative vote gets split in that area” thanks to Mr. Bernier, who’s riding sits just across the St. Lawrence.
Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos won the city of Québec itself last election, beating the NDP incumbent by a vote margin of just 1.9 per cent; and nearby Liberal MP Joël Lightbound, parliamentary secretary to the Finance Minister, beat out the Conservative incumbent to claim Louis-Hébert in 2019, by a vote margin of 7.6 per cent. Further north, the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean switched hands, from Conservative to Liberal, in an October 2017 byelection.
“If this Maxime Bernier thing goes well, it could actually split the vote for those Conservatives, because the supply management is not a major issue in that area,” said Ms. Dupére.
Sources speaking with The Hill Times last week variably identified Québec City and its surrounding region as a potential growth area for the Liberals, the Conservatives, the NDP, the Bloc and Mr. Bernier—suggesting it’ll be a busy battleground in 2019.
Mr. Vallée said in central Quebec, between Trois-Rivières and Québec City, there’s “traditionally” a lot of support there for “nationalist parties,” and in particular with the Bloc “no longer really being a factor,” he said it’s an area he expects the Conservatives will be looking to grow in.
Léger’s Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of the firm’s Montreal office, said there are a couple of seats in Québec City, along with Montreal, where the NDP’s “potential is still good” to win seats. As for Mr. Bernier, Mr. Bourque said the three seats in and around Beauce and towards Québec City, including the MP’s own, are the “primary area where Maxime Bernier could do some damage.”
But overall, he said the “race is on” between the Liberals and Conservatives in Quebec.
“Because of the Conservatives doing better in last four to six months of polling in the province [Quebec], before those past six months you would have almost looked at to what extent it would be a Liberal sweep, but now certainly the race is on,” he said.
A May poll by Léger pegged the federal Liberals at 40 per cent support in Quebec, with the Conservatives at 29 per cent (up 12 points since the 2015 election), the NDP at 15 per cent, and the Bloc at 10 per cent. The most recent weekly poll tracking numbers from Nanos Research available by filing deadline, from Sept. 14, have the Liberals at 46.9 per cent, the Conservatives at almost 14 per cent, the NDP close behind at 13.8 per cent, and the Bloc at 10 per cent.
Mr. Bourque said in recent months, the Conservatives have gained traction in regions of the province where the Bloc Québécois traditionally does well, and as a result, the “realistic scenario” for the Bloc is whether it can survive and hold on to “five to 10 seats” in the province.
“If you look at the map of where those [BQ] seats still are, you would find that a majority of them could be ridings where the Conservatives, if they continue to do well, would actually stand a chance,” he said.
While Conservatives are likely eyeing Bloc seats, Mr. Bourque said Liberals are likely looking to NDP seats to make gains in Quebec, in particular in the Gatineau and Montreal regions.
Thirty-five of Quebec’s 78 federal ridings were won by a vote margin of 10 per or less in 2015, including 23 riding won by a vote margin of five per cent or less. Of those 35 ridings, 11 are held by NDP MPs, 11 by Liberals, eight by Bloc Québécois MPs, and five by Conservatives.
For those 11 Quebec NDP ridings, the Liberal candidate came second in all but one—outgoing NDP MP Hélène Laverdière’s riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie, where former Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe came second—and nine were won by a vote margin of roughly five per cent or less.
Of the 11 Liberal Quebec seats won by a margin of 10 per cent or less, the NDP candidate came second in five, the Bloc in five, and the Conservative candidate came second place in one—Mr. Lightbound’s riding of Louis-Hébert, Que.
Six of these 11 Liberal ridings were won by a vote margin of five per cent or less, and three are currently held by cabinet ministers: National Revenue Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau (Compton-Stanstead, Que.), International Development Minister Diane Lebouthillier (Gaspésie-Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que.), and Mr. Duclos.
For the Bloc Québécois, the Liberal candidate came second in six of the eight ridings won by a margin of 10 per cent or less, with the NDP candidate second in the other two. As well, six of these eight ridings were won by a vote margin of five per cent or less.
Looking to the Conservatives, four of the five ridings won in 2015 by a margin of 10 per cent or less saw the Liberal candidate come in second, with the NDP candidate coming second in one—CPC MP Alupa Clarke’s riding of Beauport-Limoilou, Que., which he won by vote margin of roughly 5.1 per cent. Two of these five Conservative ridings were won by a vote margin of five per cent or less in 2015, including Mr. Clarke’s. The Conservatives currently hold 11 seats in Quebec.
So far, the Conservatives have nominated 16 candidates for 2019 in Quebec—the most recent being in Pierrefonds-Dollard and LaSalle-Émard-Verdun, with Honoré-Mericer next up—including Mr. Scheer’s Quebec lieutenant, Conservative MP Alain Rayes (Richmond-Arthabaska, Que.), former minister and Conservative MP Steven Blaney (Bellechasse-Les Etchemins-Lévis, Que.), and well-known Quebec MP Gérard Deltell (Louis-Saint-Laurent, Que.).
The Liberal Party has six candidates for 2019 officially nominated so far in Quebec. The party has paused candidate nominations in Quebec until the ongoing provincial election comes to a close, and once it’s over, Liberal Party director of communications Braeden Caley said nominations “will be moving forward very quickly.”
Next up on the docket for Liberal nominations in Quebec are Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne (Saint-Maurice-Champlain, Que.), Liberal MP Frank Baylis (Pierrefonds-Dollard, Que.), Liberal MP David Graham (Laurentides-Labelle, Que.), Mr. Duclos, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Que.), and Liberal MP Steven MacKinnon (Gatineau, Que.).
The NDP has yet to nominate any candidates for 2019 in Quebec, or outside it—but two heavyweight Quebec NDP MPs, Ms. Laverdière and Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, Que.), aren’t running for re-election. As well, former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair resigned his Outremont, Que. seat, previously the NDP’s toehold in the province, this past summer.
The Hill Times
|Riding||MP||2015 Result||2nd Place||Vote % Difference|
|Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou||NDP MP Romeo Saganash||37%||Liberal Pierre Dufour, 32.1%||4.9%|
|Abitibi-Témiscamingue||NDP MP Christine Moore||41.5%||Liberal Claude Thibault, 29.6%||11.9%|
|Ahuntsic-Cartierville||Liberal MP Mélanie Joly||46.8%||NDP Maria Mourani, 30%||16.8%|
|Alfred-Pellan||Liberal MP Angelo Iacono||44.5%||NDP Rosane Doré Lefebvre, 24%||20.5%|
|Argentueil-La Petite-Nation||Liberal MP Stéphane Lauzon||43.3%||NDP Chantal Crête, 24.8%||18.5%|
|Avignon-La Mitis-Matane-Matapédia||Liberal MP Rémi Massé||39.5%||BQ Kédina Fleury-Samson, 21%||18.5%|
|Beauce||now-People’s Party MP Maxime Bernier||58.9%||Liberal Adam Veilleux, 22.3%||36.6%|
|Beauport-Côte-de-Beaupré-Île d’Orléans-Charlevoix||CPC MP Sylvie Boucher||33.5%||Liberal Jean-Roger Vigneau, 26.9%||6.6%|
|Beauport-Limoilou||CPC MP Alupa Clarke||30.6%||NDP Raymond Côté, 25.5%||5.1%|
|Bécancour-Nicolet-Saurel||BQ MP Louis Plamondon||40%||Liberal Claude Carpentier, 24.3%||15.7%|
|Bellechasse-Les Etchemins-Lévis||CPC MP Steven Blaney||50.9%||Liberal Jacques Turgeon, 20.7%||30.2%|
|Beloeil-Chambly||NDP MP Matthew Dubé||31.1%||Liberal Karine Desjardins, 29.3%||1.8%|
|Berthier-Maskinongé||NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau||42.2%||BQ Yves Perron, 25.8%||16.4%|
|Bourassa||Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg||54.1%||BQ Gilles Léveillé, 17.1%||37%|
|Brome-Missisquoi||Liberal MP Denis Paradis||43.9%||NDP Catherine Lusson, 24.5%||19.4%|
|Brossard-Saint-Lambert||Liberal Alexandra Mendès||50.3%||NDP Hoang Mai, 24.6%||19.3%|
|Charlesbourg-Haute-Saint-Charles||CPC MP Pierre Paul-Hus||42.2%||Liberal Jean Côté, 23.2%||19%|
|Châteauguay-Lacolle||Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan||39.1%||BQ Sophie Stanké, 24.4%||14.7%|
|Chicoutimi-Le Fjord*||CPC MP Richard Martel||52.8%||Liberal Lina Boivin, 29.5%||23.3%|
|Compton-Stanstead||Liberal MP Marie-Claude Bibeau||36.9%||NDP Jean Rousseau, 27.4%||9.5%|
|Dorval-Lachine-LaSalle||Liberal MP Anju Dhillon||54.9%||NDP Isabelle Morin, 21.6%||33.3%|
|Drummond||NDP François Choquette||30.5%||Liberal Pierre Côté, 26.5%||4%|
|Gaspésie-Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine||Liberal MP Diane Lebouthillier||38.7%||NDP Philip Toone, 32.5%||6.2%|
|Gatineau||Liberal MP Steven MacKinnon||53.8%||NDP Françoise Boivin, 26.6%||27.2%|
|Hochelaga||NDP MP Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet||30.9%||Liberal Marwah Rizqy, 29.9%||1%|
|Honoré-Mercier||Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez||56.5%||NDP Paulina Ayala, 16.4%||40.1%|
|Hull-Aylmer||Liberal MP Greg Fergus||51.4%||NDP Nycole Turmel, 31.5%||19.9%|
|Joliette||BQ Gabriel Ste-Marie||33.3%||Liberal Michel Bourgeois, 28.2%||5.1%|
|Jonquière||NDP MP Karine Trudel||29.2%||Liberal Marc Pettersen, 28.5%||0.7%|
|Lac-Saint-Jean**||Liberal MP Richard Hébert||38.6%||CPC Rémy Leclerc, 25%||13.6%|
|Lac-Saint-Louis||Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia||64.1%||CPC Eric Girard, 17.4%||46.7%|
|La Pointe-de-l’Île||BQ MP Mario Beaulieu||33.6%||Liberal Marie-Chantale Simard, 28.6%||5%|
|La Prairie||Liberal MP Jean-Claude Poissant||36.5%||BQ Christian Picard, 26.2%||10.3%|
|LaSalle-Émard-Verdun||Liberal MP David Lametti||43.9%||NDP Hélène LeBlanc, 29%||14.9%|
|Laurentides-Labelle||Liberal MP David Graham||32.1%||BQ Johanne Régimbald, 29.7%||2.4%|
|Laurier-Sainte-Marie||NDP MP Hélène Laverdière||38.3%||BQ Gilles Duceppe, 28.7%||9.6%|
|Laval-Les Îles||Liberal MP Fayçal El-Khoury||47.7%||NDP François Pilon, 19.8%||27.9%|
|Lévis-Lotbinière||CPC MP Jacques Gourde||50.1%||Liberal Claude Boucher, 21.7%||28.4%|
|Longueuil-Charles-LeMoyne||Liberal MP Sherry Romanado||35.4%||BQ Philippe Cloutier, 27%||8.4%|
|Longueuil-Saint-Hubert||NDP MP Pierre Nantel||31.2%||Liberal Michael O’Grady, 30%||1.2%|
|Louis-Hébert||Liberal MP Joël Lightbound||34.8%||CPC Jean-Pierre Asselin, 27.2%||7.6%|
|Louis-Saint-Laurent||CPC MP Gérard Deltell||50.5%||Liberal Youri Rousseau, 21.4%||29.1%|
|Manicouagan||BQ MP Marilène Gill||41.3%||Liberal Mario Tremblay, 29.4%||11.9%|
|Marc-Aurèle-Fortin||Liberal MP Yves Robillard||40.9%||NDP Marie-Josée Lemieux, 23.5%||17.4%|
|Mégantic-L’Érable||CPC MP Luc Berthold||35.4%||Liberal David Berthiaume, 28.1%||7.3%|
|Mirabel||BQ MP Simon Marcil||31.5%||NDP Mylène Freeman, 30.1%||1.4%|
|Montarville||Liberal MP Michel Picard||32.5%||BQ Catherine Fournier, 28.4%||4.1%|
|Montcalm||BQ MP Luc Thériault||36.6%||Liberal Louis-Charles Thouin, 27.3%||9.3%|
|Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loop||CPC MP Bernard Généreux||29%||Liberal Marie-Josée Normand, 28.4%||0.6%|
|Mount Royal||Liberal MP Anthony Housefather||50.3%||CPC Robert Libman, 37.9%||12.4%|
|Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount||Liberal MP Marc Garneau||57.7%||NDP James Hughes, 21.8%||35.9%|
|Outremont||former-NDP MP Thomas Mulcair||44.1%||Liberal Rachel Bendayan, 33.5%||10.6%|
|Papineau||Liberal MP Justin Trudeau||52%||NDP Anne Lagacé Dowson, 25.9%||26.1%|
|Pierre-Boucher-Les-Patriotes-Verchères||BQ Xavier Barsalou-Duval||28.6%||Liberal Lucie Gagnon, 28.3%||0.3%|
|Pierrefonds-Dollard||Liberal MP Frank Baylis||58.7%||CPC Valérie Assouline, 20%||38.7%|
|Pontiac||Liberal MP Will Amos||54.5%||NDP Mathieu Ravignat, 22.5%||32%|
|Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier||CPC MP Joël Godin||44%||NDP Élaine Michaud, 22.1%||21.9%|
|Québec||Liberal MP Jean-Yves Duclos||28.9%||NDP Annick Papillon, 27%||1.9%|
|Repentigny||BQ Monique Pauzé||34.7%||Liberal Adriana Dudas, 27.3%||7.4%|
|Richmond-Arthabaska||CPC MP Alain Rayes||31.6%||Liberal Marc Desmarais, 24.7%||6.9%|
|Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques||NDP MP Guy Caron||43.1%||Liberal Pierre Cadieux, 28%||15.5%|
|Rivière-Des-Mille-Îles||Liberal MP Linda Lapointe||32.4%||NDP Laurin Liu, 29.5%||2.9%|
|Rivière-du-Nord||BQ MP Rhéal Fortin||32%||NDP Pierre Dionne Labelle, 30.1%||1.9%|
|Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie||NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice||49.2%||BQ Claude André, 21.1%||28.1%|
|Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot||NDP MP Brigitte Sansoucy||28.7%||Liberal René Vincelette, 27.6%||1.1%|
|Saint-Jean||Liberal MP Jean Rioux||33.2%||NDP Hans Marotte, 29.1%||4.1%|
|Saint-Laurent***||Liberal MP Emmanuella Lambropoulos||59.1%||CPC Jimmy Yu, 19.5%||39.6%|
|Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel||Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio||64.7%||NDP Rosannie Filato, 14.8%||49.9%|
|Saint-Maurice-Champlain||Liberal MP François-Philippe Champagne||41.5%||NDP Jean-Yves Tremblay, 20.8%||20.7%|
|Salaberry-Suroît||NDP MP Anne Minh-Thu Quach||30.4%||Liberal Robert Sauvé, 29.2%||1.2%|
|Shefford||Liberal MP Pierre Breton||39%||NDP Claire Mailhot, 23.7%||15.3%|
|Sherbrooke||NDP MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault||37.4%||Liberal Tom Allen, 29.8%||7.6%|
|Terrebonne||BQ Michel Boudrias||33%||Liberal Michèle Audette, 28%||5%|
|Thérèse-De Blainville||Liberal MP Ramez Ayoub||32.5%||BQ Alain Marginean, 27.1%||5.4%|
|Trois-Rivières||NDP MP Robert Aubin||31.8%||Liberal Yves Boivin, 30.2%||1.6%|
|Vaudreuil-Soulanges||Liberal MP Peter Schiefke||46.6%||NDP Jamie Nicholls, 22.3%||24.3%|
|Ville-Marie-Le-Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Soeurs||Liberal MP Marc Miller||50.8%||NDP Allison Turner, 23.4%||27.4%|
|Vimy||Liberal MP Eva Nassif||46.2%||NDP France Duhamel, 21%||25.2%|
*These results are from a June 18 byelection; previously, in 2015, the riding was won by former-Liberal MP Denis Lemieux with 31.3% of the vote.
** These results are from an Oct. 23, 2017 byelection; previously, in 2015, the riding was won by former-Conservative MP Denis Lebel with 33.3% of the vote.
*** These are results are from an April 3, 2017 byelection; previously, in 2015, the riding was on by former-Liberal MP Stéphane Dion with 61.6% of the vote.
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