Garneau still holds healthy lead

By P.A. Sévigny on August 21, 2008

With only three short weeks to go before polling day in the Westmount-Ville Marie by-election, Liberal candidate Marc Garneau seems to have a healthy lead and there’s no reason why he should lose it before election day.

While residents in Westmount will probably continue to vote Liberal for all the usual reasons- and some out of habit–they genuinely like Garneau himself. More than a few of those asked knew about CBC journalist Anne Lagacé Dowson’s serious efforts to win the riding for Jack Layton’s NDP (New Democratic Party), but told The Métropolitain that though they liked Dowson they didn’t know enough about the NDP to vote for her party.

“I’m going to vote for the man from outer space [Garneau],” said Krista Terka. “I like the Dowson lady and I think she’s sincere but I don’t trust her party because I don’t know her leader.”

Barry Corber, the well known manager of Nicholas Hoare’s music department, said the environment trumped every other issue he could think of. While he knows his contribution to the nation’s ecological health is minimal, he also knows it’s nothing compared to the damage caused by the nation’s resource and industrial sectors that produce most of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s going to be a choice between the Liberals and the NDP,” he said. “I’ll probably vote Liberal because even if everybody’s talking green, Dion seems to be the only guy who actually plans to do something about it.”

While the NDP hopes Lagacé Dowson will repeat Thomas Mulcair’s recent upset in Montreal’s Outremont riding, doubts about Dion’s capacity to lead his party are beginning to fade and traditional Liberal voters see no need to abandon their party during this by-election.

Dans le Vieux-Montréal, Nicholas Déveaux, se voyant demander quelles étaient ses plus grandes préoccupations dans cette élection, répond « qu’on devraient avant tout se débarrasser des conservateurs. » Roland Dubuc, un joaillier ayant son commerce sur la rue Saint-Paul, se montra d’accord avec Déveaux. M. Dubuc affirme que normalement, il voterait pour le Bloc Québecois, mais il ne veut pas diviser le vote contre Harper ; donc sa décision est déjà prise. Dubuc dit qu’il voterait pour Dion et ses libéraux car il pense qu’ils ont la meilleure chance de gagner cette élection. Il dit que sa conjointe est du même avis et que tous ses amis partagent son opinion.

Maryse Plamondon, une fonctionnaire de carrière, soutient plus ou moins la même chose. En emmenant son chien pour une promenade au vieux port, elle affirme qu’elle votera « pour les Rouges parce que c’est la seule façon qu’on a pour se débarrasser d’Harper. »

Electrical engineer Alexandre Rousseau thinks Dion’s ‘Green Shift’ requires both vision and a political will if it is to become any kind of a reality. While skating near his home by the Children’s Hospital in the downtown core’s Shaughnessy Village, he said people should have started working on green initiatives nearly 40 years ago. He said Dion seemed to be the only one who understood what’s at stake but it still may be a case of “too little and too late.”

“Dion has that vision,” he said, “…and what’s more important is he seems to have the will to make it happen.”

However, the Liberals aren’t taking an imminent victory in the Westmount-Ville Marie by-election for granted. They are working hard, as they should, particularly in the city center. The NDP are putting up a hard fight for the riding and Lagacé Dowson has significant support in the downtown core of the riding.

“The NDP’s vote is finally going to have an impact in this riding,” said well-known Milton Street bookstore owner Adrian King-Edwards. “Now the NDP will have far more influence in this area than it has ever had in the past.”

Even as Dowson seems to be doing well among the universities in the downtown core, The Métropolitain found no indication that the Liberals are losing their core support. Michael Sweet, who teaches for the Lester B. Pearson school board, said poverty would be the single most important issue facing Canadians in the next election. He also thinks Liberal leader Stéphane Dion is the only leader who really understands the problem and actually has a plan to do something about it. As the executive director of the school board’s Learning for a Cause project, Sweet said the Liberal candidate knows how urban poverty affects its victims “…especially kids.”

Jaclyn Schwartzman doesn’t agree with Sweet. She said the environment would be the big issue and she would be supporting Jack Layton’s NDP. Outside the Roddick Gates on Sherbrooke Street, she said she and her girlfriends would all be voting for Dowson.

 “Not only is Dowson a serious candidate but she’s a woman and we need women in parliament,” she said. “The sisters have got to help her.”

Pourtant, les partisans de Stephen Harper et ses conservateurs trouveront toujours leurs votes en jouant sur les questions traditionnelles qu’appuient les Bleus. Richard St- Denis dit qu’il votera pour le candidat conservateur Guy Dufort : « Harper c’est un gars qui aide les familles, » dit-il. « Non seulement croit-il dans les valeurs traditionnelles mais il est dur sur le crime et il veut faire arrêter les bandits. C’est assez pour moi et c’est assez pour qu’il gagne mon vote. »

It’s also good enough for Bruno ‘Everyone knows me’ Goldwax and his friend Eddy Gural: “Harper keeps his promises,” said Bruno. “He always comes through with what he promised and that’s always good enough for me. Gural agreed with Bruno but he also added his own reasons as to why he wasn’t going to vote Liberal: “Dion just annoys me,” he said. “That man always says the wrong thing at the wrong time.”

Holly Jonas said she would vote for Garneau. While she admires Dion for having the courage to develop his ‘Green shift’, she still believes he is going to have a hard time trying to sell it to the Canadian people as a working tax proposal. Professor James Jonas, her husband, said it was a simple choice and he had no problems as to where his vote was going to go: “In the end, you’re voting for the party,” said the professor. “And Garneau is an excellent candidate for this riding.”


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