Quebec Solidaire (QS) believes it can unseat Liberal MNA Isabelle Melançon in the Verdun riding.

QS president Alejandra Zaga Mendez intends to run for the seat in the next election.

The Montreal-area Verdun riding has been a Liberal stronghold since its creation in 1965, but support for the Liberal Party has been in sharp decline since 2014.

That year, Liberal Jacques Daoust won with 50.6 per cent of the vote. In the 2016 by-election, Melançon was elected with 35.6 per cent of the vote, and again in 2018 with 35.5 per cent.

The QS candidate, Vanessa Roy, benefited most from the erosion of Liberal support, finishing second behind Melançon with 24 per cent of the vote. Until then, QS had always finished third or fourth.

“There is nothing the Liberal Party can take for granted, neither in the southwest nor in their core ridings,” said Zaga Mendez in an interview. “I want Quebec Solidaire to win in Verdun.”

Former QS candidate in Bourassa-Sauvé, Zaga Mendez was elected by acclamation on Nov. 21 as party president. She holds a Ph.D. in sustainable development and conservation.

If she wins her nomination (she is supported by Manon Massé), Zaga Mendez will face Melançon, a strong opponent, former Minister of the Environment under Philippe Couillard.

Melançon is the current Liberal critic for the environment, public finance, employment and the status of women. She is also the critic responsible for Western Quebec.

“People in Montreal have the desire to move on,” said Zaga Mendez. “They want to vote for a government and for people who take environmental issues seriously.”

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Without specifically attacking Melançon, she criticized “greenwashing,” or the fact that a party, an organization or a company gives itself a responsible image with regard to the environment.

“We have always kept the same lines, the same principles. (…) I look forward to meeting Ms. Melançon in the field and talking about environmental issues with her,” the QS president said.

She added that she wants to campaign for the protection of protected areas and access to organic food for all, among other things. The Quebec general election is scheduled for Oct. 3.

— This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 17, 2022.

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