Kramberger: Liberals could lose seats on edges of West Island stronghold

kramberger: liberals could lose seats on edges of west island stronghold

Coalition Avenirs Québec leader François Legault is accompanied by local candidate Eve Bélec, left, as he campaigns in Vaudreuil-Dorion, on Sept. 3, 2022. Bélec is running in the Vaudreuil riding in the upcoming Québec provincial election.

The West Island core has tended to elect Liberal MNAs in provincial elections — and may do again next month. However, the party led by Dominique Anglade is facing stiff opposition in a couple of local seats from the Coalition Avenir Québec , led by Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue native and incumbent premier François Legault , which is poised to gain Marquette (Dorval, Lachine) and the off-island riding of Vaudreuil at the expense of the Liberals in the Oct. 3 election.

In past decades, the Liberals have been accused by some detractors of taking West Island voters (particularly anglophones ) for granted and for using the threat of a referendum as a trump card. But options other than the Parti Québécois have existed through the past few decades, such as the Equality Party, which elected four MNAs in 1989 including Neil Cameron in Jacques-Cartier.

The Action démocratique du Québec, led by Liberal party dissident Mario Dumont, was also around for a decade with no West Island success.

In the 2012 election, the CAQ had Paola Hawa, Ste-Anne’s current mayor and a town councillor at the time, as a candidate. She placed a distant second behind longtime MNA Geoff Kelley . The Liberal mantle in this riding has since been passed to his son Greg Kelley , who is currently seeking his second term in Jacques-Cartier.

kramberger: liberals could lose seats on edges of west island stronghold

According to poll-aggregating website Qc125.com, Liberal incumbent Greg Kelley has a 99 per cent chance of being re-elected in Jacques-Cartier.

The ridings of Jacques-Cartier (Baie-D’Urfé, Beaconsfield, Pointe-Claire, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and Senneville), Nelligan (Kirkland, L’Île-Bizard—Ste-Geneviève and part of Pierrefonds) and Robert-Baldwin (Dollard-des-Ormeaux and part of Pierrefonds-Roxboro) remain safe Liberal seats, according to poll-aggregating website Qc125.com .

However, polls indicate that Liberal incumbent Enrico Ciccone and the CAQ’s Marc Baaklini are in a neck-to-neck race in Marquette. Liberal incumbent Marie-Claude Nichols is vulnerable in Vaudreuil, with the CAQ’s Eve Bélec leading in polls.

The local Conservative candidates, as reflected in polls, will finish — at best — a distant second in Jacques-Cartier and Robert-Baldwin.

Even if it unfolds as expected locally, Robert-Baldwin will have a new MNA. Carlos Leitão, a former finance minister under Philippe Couillard’s government, opted to not seek re-election after two terms in office. The Liberals have tagged lawyer Brigitte Garceau to run in his place.

West Island area voters will have at least seven or up to nine options on their ballot, including candidates from all five main parties; CAQ, Conservative, Liberal, PQ and Québec solidaire, whose leaders took part in a televised debate last week.

The Green Party is also fielding candidates in all West Island ridings.

Bloc Montréal, led by former Montreal mayoralty candidate Balarama Holness , has candidates running in Nelligan, Robert-Baldwin and Vaudreuil.

The Canadian Party of Quebec, led by Colin Standish , has local candidates in all West Island ridings with the exception of Marquette.

Meanwhile, an independent candidate is running in Marquette, and the Démocratie directe party has candidates in Nelligan and Vaudreuil.

West Islanders have varied voting options, but its three core ridings will likely remain Liberal strongholds. I wonder what role these elected MNAs will play in rebuilding the Quebec Liberal brand if the party is crushed across the province as many anticipate on Oct 3.

Albert Kramberger is editor of the Montreal Gazette’s West Island/Off-Island section.

akramberger@postmedia.com

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