A protest vote was not reflected in the local results of Monday’s Quebec election, but the Liberal Party has a lot of work to do elsewhere.
West Islanders had ample options, but the majority of those who voted on Monday kept the status quo and once again chose Liberal MNAs, as did most constituencies on the island of Montreal.
While detractors may claim that Western Islanders, or Anglophones, are being held hostage or have been let down by Quebec Liberals over minority rights issues, a protest vote was not reflected in the local results.
Bills from the Coalition Avenir Québec government to abolish school boards, toughen language laws, or ban religious symbols from some public sector jobs might not have been popular with many West Islanders, but most Local voters saw no one as a better alternative than the Liberals.
Aside from the five main parties, whose leaders took part in televised French debates during the campaign, there were several candidates from fringe parties on the ballot for Monday’s provincial election.
Although voter support for the Liberals might have declined locally compared to the 2018 election, the races in Jacques-Cartier, Nelligan and Robert-Baldwin were still not close.
The CAQ, led by Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue native François Legault, may have made it to a majority government, but the ruling party ranked a distant second under Nelligan and third under both Jacques-Cartier and Robert -Baldwin with less than 10 percent. of the votes
Quebec’s Conservative Party candidates placed a distant second to Robert-Baldwin with about 16 percent of the vote and Jacques-Cartier with 11 percent. Can the party close the Robert-Baldwin voter gap in four years to make it a real race?
Gregory Kelley was re-elected to his second term at Jacques-Cartier with about 63 percent of the vote, by an impressive 14,870 vote margin over his closest rival.
Robert-Baldwin’s new MNA, Brigitte Garceau, took home about 58 percent of the vote, with a winning margin of 12,449 votes. She replaces Carlos Leitão, former finance minister in Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government, who decided not to seek re-election.
The CAQ and the Conservatives had a close battle for second place at Nelligan, where Monsef Derraji was re-elected with 52 percent support and a winning margin of 11,870 votes..
Liberal incumbents in Marquette (Dorval, Lachine) and outside the island of Vaudreuil fended off challenges from the CWC. While a closer finish was anticipated, Enrico Ciccone again convincingly took Marquette, by 6,531 votes over the CAQ candidate. Marie-Claude Nichols, however, defeated the CAQ candidate in Vaudreuil by just 576 votes, according to Élections Québec.
The Liberals have a lot of work to do in the regions, but they have a loyal West Island fan base they can rely on to rebuild. Will that happen long enough for the Liberals to potentially form a government in four years? It’s an uphill battle considering that both Québec solidaire and the Parti Québécois registered slightly more popular votes across the province. And although the Conservative Party led by Éric Duhaime failed to win a seat, barring recounts in a pair of Beauce cavalcades, it took home 13 per cent of the vote across the province.
Who knows if Dominique Anglade will remain as Liberal leader, but most West Island voters, for better or worse, have not yet given up on the party and local members will surely play a role in shaping its future. .
Albert Kramberger is editor of the West Island/Off-Island section of the Montreal Gazette.
Liberals unite after see-saw battle in Vaudreuil as CAQ sweeps other rides off island
Liberals sweep West Island again, but support slips