Décision 2011: Key races to watch in central Montreal

By Dan Delmar on April 21, 2011


In what promises to be one of the more interesting races in the country – and one with high stakes – incumbent MP Thomas Mulcair will face veteran Martin Cauchon. Mulcair is the NDP’s only Quebec MP while Cauchon, a former Chrétien minister, makes his return to politics in the riding he gave up in 2004. Outremont is a riding Liberals could have won in 2008. “Did everyone show up for work? No. Did everyone make an effort? No,” an organizer for the losing candidate, Sébastien Dhavernas, told The Métropolitain at the time. Cauchon will presumably have more party support; he would likely be a minister in a Liberal government and, some say, a potential leadership candidate. On the other hand, Mulcair is seen as the only heir-apparent to Jack Layton, when he decides to cede the leadership of the NDP. Mulcair beat Dhavernas in 2008 by just over 2,000 votes.

Jeanne-Le Ber

Another swing riding on the island of Montreal will be crucial to restoring a Liberal presence in the province. Since the riding was created in 2004, Jeanne-Le Ber has been split between Liberals and the Bloc Québécois. Incumbent Thierry St-Cyr of the Bloc edged out Liberal Christian Feuillette in 2008 by just over 1,000 votes. Again, Liberal organizers admitted to The Métropolitain that under Stéphane Dion’s leadership, there were neither the resources nor the will in 2008 to win the race. Feuillette beat out Mark Bruneau, the former head of the party’s finance committee, by a handful of votes to become the Liberal nominee; this time around, an enthusiastic Bruneau is the candidate. He was chastised by the Sud-Ouest borough for putting up election posters before Parliament was dissolved. 

Westmount-Ville Marie

A former Astronaut and head of the Canadian Space Agency, Marc Garneau is seeking his second mandate as MP for this Liberal stronghold. Garneau has been the opposition critic for science and technology, as well as the party’s Quebec Lieutenant, and is expected to be a key figure in any future Liberal government.In 2008, he beat a star NDP candidate, Anne Lagacé Dowson, by nearly 10,000 votes. This time around, the NDP is putting a candidate with little-to-no profile,Joanne Corbeil, up against Garneau, while the Conservatives are fielding a stronger candidate, lawyer Neil Drabkin, who was chief of staff to Stockwell Day. 

Mont Royal

Another Montreal Liberal stronghold is being targeted by Conservatives, who have put longtime city councillor Saulie Zajdel up against MP Irwin Cotler. In this riding, the Tories are hoping that voters in the Jewish community can help themmake their first breakthrough on the island (the riding is roughly one-quarter Jewish). In 2008, Cotler defeated his closest rival, Conservative candidate RafaelTzoubari, by nearly 20 percentage points. Zajdel, who was a Cote des Neiges councillor until 2009 and former Cotler supporter, has his work cut out for him;Mont Royal electors have voted Liberal in every federal election since 1940.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce – Lachine

MP Marlene Jennings is also expected to coast to victory in a riding that Warren Allmand held for the Liberals before her from 1965 until 1997. NDG-Lachine electors have voted Liberal all but three times since 1949. In 2008, Jennings finished with nearly 45 per cent of the vote, compared to 16 per cent for the runner-up, Conservative Carmine Pontillo and the Bloc Québécois’ Eric Taillefer was roughly 300 votes further behind. The Bloc candidate this time around,Gabrielle Ladouceur-Despins, has recently worked for the federal government atboth Health Canada and Service Canada. The new Conservative candidate is Matthew Conway, who was an assistant in the office of Jonquière-Alma MPJean-Pierre Blackburn.



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