The challenge of mobilization in Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne

The challenge of mobilization in Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir Liberal candidate, Christopher Baenninger, with Louise Jacques, a
citizen of Saint-Henri district

Marco Bélair-Cirino, Laurianne Croteau, Florence Morin-Martel

March 4, 2023

  • Quebec

Ten days before the by-election, the candidates of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) and Quebec solidaire (QS) are knocking on the doors of voters in Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne to encourage them to vote in large number for their political formation for the second time in six months. The ability they have to mobilize their supporters will determine the outcome of the race, it is underlined in one camp as in the other.

During the general elections of October 3, the leader liberal had obtained 2736 votes more than its main adversary, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, who wore the colors of QS.

The PLQ had won a plurality of votes in nearly two-thirds of the 148 polling divisions in the riding of Sud-Ouest de Montréal, against nearly a third for QS. Beyond this duel, only the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) managed to make some gains, taking the upper hand in four polling divisions located in the Ville-Émard (three) and Côte-Saint-Paul (one) districts. .

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Contested, Dominique Anglade gave up her seat as leader of the PLQ on November 7, then that of deputy on December 1. Will the Liberal stronghold, which it has occupied for seven years, in turn fall under the onslaught of QS — like Verdun and Maurice-Richard — now that the PLQ can no longer count on its own vote output in the general elections? what about the “leader's bonus” he enjoyed six months ago?

“The parties, we all fight against each other. But, ultimately, our biggest challenge to all, for democracy, is the rate of participation, ”says a strategist in the campaign office of Liberal candidate, Christopher Baenninger, on Notre-Dame Street.

The same challenge arose when Ms. Anglade was first elected as an MP in 2015 in a by-election, which was necessary after the departure of Marguerite Blais. Only 23.9% of voters cast their vote then, compared to 68.3% in the 2014 general election.

“I'll try you”

Mr Baenninger takes nothing for granted. “I'm here every day from early in the morning, until quite late at night,” he argues before setting off through the streets of the snowy Saint-Henri district, which he calls the “core” of the city. constituency.

By opening her door decorated with a crown with a rabbit, Louise Jacques lets out a delicious smell of cake in the neighborhood. “I'm starting to get tired,” sighs the lady, who recognized the 50-year-old from the many election posters hanging here and there. “We don't know who to vote for anymore. We get promised things and it doesn't happen,” she continues.

I'm here every day from early in the morning until pretty late at night.

—Christopher Baenninger

After a few minutes of discussing the difficulties of making ends meet, Ms. Jacques confides in the candidate that she has never voted red in her life. “But I'll try you,” she says, adding that she voted orange in the last ballot. “It's music to my ears,” the aspiring MP replies, before politely refusing the little pastries fresh from the oven. “I have to stay professional. »

In this sector, the PLQ and QS are neck and neck. The situation is different east of the riding, notably in Griffintown, where condominium towers have sprouted like weeds over the past decade. The real estate projects have attracted a more cosmopolitan and English-speaking electorate, “very strong in supporting the Liberals”, notes political scientist Thierry Giasson on the phone.

Entre Saint-Henri and Griffintown

Solidarity candidate Guillaume Cliche-Rivard chats with passers-by at the Georges-Vanier metro station in Little Burgundy. “Last time I came second. It was close. But I want to be first this time,” the immigration lawyer says, all smiles, to a lady as she goes through the turnstiles.

Nearly 9,000 voters in the constituency had lined up behind QS in the fall of 2022, compared to 7,413 four years earlier (2018). “The main challenge will be to find those supporters who voted for us and give them a reason to vote,” said a solidarity organizer. The challenge is all the greater since many are unaware of the by-election.

Mr. Cliche-Rivard distributes leaflets in the company of the co-spokesperson of the left party, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. “Put one here,” calls local resident Lam Phan, waving his bag. “Do you know our great candidate?” asks Mr. Nadeau-Dubois. “Yes, he takes care of immigrants,” retorts Mr. Phan with a smile.

While the latter voted for Dominique Anglade in the last elections, he now considers that solidarity workers are best placed to “give a kick” to the government of François Legault, which obtained a parliamentary “supermajority” on October 3. “The Liberals, they take immigrants for granted,” he laments, before continuing on his way to the escalator.

For Quebec solidaire, this is an opportunity to recover from their disappointment caused by the latest election results, argues political science professor at Laval University Thierry Giasson. The party elected 11 deputies in 2022, only one more than in 2018. “Winning this partial would be an extraordinarily important symbolic victory for them,” he explains.

On the other hand, “it would be a huge defeat for [the Liberals] in a context where things are not going well for the party and where there are many questions about its ability to maintain itself, to grow and to reposition itself in the political spectrum in Quebec,” he continues.

Trying to convince “the most people”

In the neighborhood of Pointe-Saint- Charles, in the southeast of the riding, Caquiste candidate Victor Pelletier tries to engage passers-by before they rush into the Charlevoix metro station.

Many of them barely slowed down when the 21-year-old man handed them a flyer, but the president of the Commission Relève de la CAQ kept smiling. “We try to meet as many people as possible and convince as many people as possible,” he told Devoir. We will not hide it, it is not a corner that has voted for the CAQ in the past. But here we are trying to get our message across. His party came third in the last poll, with 17.7% of the vote.

The Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood is fertile ground, not for the CAQ, but for QS, since community groups are swarming in the neighborhood, points out Professor Giasson.

The CAQ obtained the plurality of votes in only four of the 148 polling divisions, including two on the northern part of Monk Street. Crossed by Le Devoirin front of the retirement home where he lives, Pierre Lauzon says he is determined not to renew his support for the CAQ. “With their coming of age, they think they are good and everything is fine. You have to shake them up a bit to do the most they can,” he says, leaning on his walker.

“I'm going to vote for the Parti Québécois,” he announces. he at the sight of a CIUSSS vehicle. The driver politely explains to him that he is “not here for [him]”. Mr. Lauzon's face closes.

The PQ and the PCQ also in the ranks

PQ candidate Andréanne Fiola must campaign without her leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, who has gone on a European tour from February 23 to March 4. “But just before leaving, he came to the field,” she said in a telephone interview. And when he comes back, it will be the same too.

The protection of French is a subject that constantly comes up on the ground, says the one who bit the dust in Laval-des-Rapides in the last general election. “We are often served in English in Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne,” she laments.

For his part, the candidate of the Conservative Party of Quebec, Lucien Koty, hears a lot about health system problems. The information technology consultant hopes that his party, which came fifth this fall, will do better this time around.

The man from Benin says he had a good reception in some streets of the riding door-to-door, without remembering precisely which ones. “When you fall into a solidary or liberal stronghold, you feel it right away,” he says.