Canada 2019: Quebec – South

Beauce

MP at Dissolution: Maxime Bernier, People’s Party (elected as Conservative)

Our Rating: Tossup

Our Take: All eyes will be on Beauce – not because this is a traditional swing riding, but because of its MP. Although this riding used to alternate between the Liberals and Social Credit parties, Gilles Bernier won it for the Progressive Conservatives in 1984. Maxime Bernier gained it as an open Liberal seat for the Conservatives in 2006, and although he served as a Cabinet Minister under Stephen Harper, in 2018 he left the party following the direction new leader Andrew Scheer chose. Bernier had stood in the leadership election, losing narrowly to Scheer on the final ballot. 

Our rating is Tossup. Essentially, this is a contest between Bernier’s local popularity and his vision against the Conservative machine. Bernier’s policies meant that he didn’t win this riding in the final leadership election ballot – his stance on supply management in particular cost him the votes of dairy farmers in the Conservative membership, but he is still popular here. We don’t agree with the popular narrative that this is a ‘Bernier’ riding, and neither do the Conservatives who think they will hold this, but we still believe that Bernier has a fighting chance. Our sentiment is reinforced by a poll by Mainstreet for ipolitics.ca , which had Bernier and Conservative dairy farmer Jeff Lehoux statistically tied. The link to this poll’s publication (independent of us) is here. 

Beloeil-Chambly

MP at Dissolution: Matthew Dubé, NDP

Our Rating: Tossup (Bloc vs. Liberal)

Our Take: A largely urban and suburban seat in Southern Quebec, the Bloc held this with Yves Lessard, who lost in the 2011 Orange Wave and again in 2015. Both those elections saw a victory for the NDP, but the latter was a three way race, which incumbent MP Matthew Dubé narrowly came on top with the low total of 31.07%. Provincially this is a CAQ area, and home to the CAQ Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette. The heavyweights come federally too, as Dubé will be challenged by the Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and Marie-Chantal Hamel for the Liberals.

This riding is rated by us as a Tossup between the Bloc Québécois and Liberals, but not one that involves the incumbent NDP. We believe despite his high profile and strength as an NDP MP, the fundamental challenge of the NDP in Quebec will be too much to overcome. With provincial polling in the single digits, a loss for Dubé seems certain. The beneficiary of that decline appears however to be less certain. The Liberal strength in Quebec is undeniable, and they will gain seats in the province. This could have been one of them, but the Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet will almost certainly give his party a strong chance. Until one of them can break out from the pack in what we expect will be a contentious fight, we will rate this a Tossup between the Bloc and Liberal Parties. We don’t think either of them have enough of an advantage yet.

Brome-Missisquoi

MP at Dissolution: Denis Paradis, Liberal (not running for re-election)

Our Rating: Solidly Liberal

Our Take: Brome-Missisquoi, a riding on the US-Canada border and in the Eastern Townships, has been a bellwether all this century. The riding contains the towns of Magog and Cowansville and the rural areas surrounding them. Since the 1995 by-election win of Denis Paradis, he has won whenever the Liberals form government, but like many Quebec ridings, it went Bloc in 2006 and 2008 and NDP in 2011. Paradis regained the seat last time with 43.9% of the vote, but stood down this election. The Liberals’ likely candidate is cyclist Lyne Bessette, while Bruno Coté, Sylvie Jetté, Monique Allard and Francois Poulin will run for the Conservatives, NDP, Bloc and PPC respectively. 

This riding is rated as Solidly Liberal. Our reasoning is simple. With the Liberals performing strongly in Quebec, the retirement of the popular incumbent in Paradis won’t affect them into a position where they lose. We expect that the Liberal candidate will again win between 40-50% of the vote, with the opposition parties split in too many different ways to make this race remotely consequential.

Longueuil-Charles LeMoyne

MP at Dissolution: Sherry Romanado, Liberal

Our Rating: Solidly Liberal

Our Take: One of two ridings based in Longueuil on the South Shore, this one saw a victory for Liberal Sherry Romanado last time – it is another Bloc 2006 and 2008, NDP 2011, Liberal 2015 riding. Romanado won with a decent 35.4%, coming up between the Bloc, who ran up huge margins in the middle of the riding, and the NDP in second and third respectively. The PQ won in the overlapping Marie-Victorin riding, but this is a nationalist/sovereigntist area, and the Liberals are doing relatively well in such areas.

Our simple projection is that we think the same will happen, without the NDP. The NDP performed fairly evenly all over the riding, and it’s likely a lot of their votes go to the Bloc as well as the Liberals. The problem for the Bloc is there simply isn’t enough NDP vote to make that happen; if provincial polling is correct, it won’t all break their way. The Bloc themselves don’t appear to see it as a target, and are focusing on two neighbouring ridings instead. All of this amounts to a clear win for Romanado, and a rating of Solidly Liberal – we think only they can win here.

Shefford

Our Rating: Solidly Liberal

Our Take: Shefford, one of the oldest continuously existing ridings in Canada, covers Granby and the surrounding areas in the Eastern Townships. Like many Ontario ridings, it went Bloc in 2006 and 2008, then NDP in 2011, and Liberal in 2015; Liberal Pierre Breton won the open seat by a surprisingly large margin, doing particularly well in urban areas, including Granby. Breton is running for re-election against token opposition. 
These Quebec ridings may be understandable targets for some parties now, but in a good election for the Liberals, the margin is big enough here that they should hold it. Breton may not be the biggest name in the Liberal Party, but he is clearly the strongest candidate in the race, and the Liberals should hold most of the voters from last time, as well as gaining a few from the second placed NDP. We have no confidence any other party is able to put up a strong fight, let alone win, so we rate this as Solidly Liberal.

Vaudreuil-Soulanges

MP at Dissolution: Peter Schiefke, Liberal

Our Rating: Solidly Liberal

Our Take: Vaudreuil-Soulanges is an off-island suburb of Montreal, with an affluent high commuter population. The riding extends from Vaudreuil itself to the border with Ontario. Whilst it has gone for both the Bloc and NDP this century, in 2015, Liberal Peter Schiefke handily ousted NDP incumbent Jamie Nicholls with 46.6% of votes to Nicholls 22.3%. He has served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and is running for re-election. The Quebec Liberals also won the main overlapping riding provincially in their 2018 poor performance.
The high margin of victory last time means that in this good year for Liberals in Quebec, we don’t see any other party competing. Rather, we rate this as Solidly Liberal, and Schiefke has a strong base to increase his vote as the NDP declines. This will be typical of other ridings in the province, and therefore if the polls and trends mean anything, this should easily stay in the Liberal column.