Early results show Montreal with heavy support for Trudeau's Liberals
Both Grits and Bloc hoped to gain seats in the ridings that surround the island
Very early indications showed the island of Montreal being painted in wide swaths of Liberal red once again as poll results trickled in, with small dabs of NDP orange and Bloc light blue likely to dot the city when the final vote was tallied.
While the outcome was largely foretold on the island, particularly in the western areas where extensive anglophone and allophone residential bases consistently yield Liberal votes, it was the ridings encircling Montreal where both the Liberals and the Bloc were hoping to gain territory, or at least hold onto it.
As deadline loomed, La Pointede-l'île, the sole Montreal riding to vote Bloc in 2019, looked to be favouring incumbent Mario
Beaulieu again. In Rosemont-la Petite-patrie, home of the only NDP MP to be re-elected in Quebec in the last election, Alexandre Boulerice was holding on to a slim lead over well-known Liberal candidate Nancy Drolet, an Olympic hockey player and sportscaster. In other Montreal Island ridings where results had come in, the Liberal candidates had the early lead.
Going into the elections, the Liberals had been looking to swing numerous Bloc ridings in the areas surrounding the island in the quest for a majority, with Justin Trudeau making numerous trips to Montreal's suburbs.
As the campaign played out, those hopes started to look slimmer. Early results last night had the Bloc holding on to the riding of La Prairie, due south of Montreal.
Next door in Châteauguay-lacolle, where the Liberals were counting on Brenda Shanahan to hang to the seat, Bloc candidate Patrick O'hara held a slim lead, albeit with only three out of 221 polls reporting results.
So it played out in the early going of the evening, as the counting of votes appeared to be slowed due to a lack of polling employees for Elections Canada, and the fact that there were still people in line waiting to vote at several Montreal polling centres long after the polls closed Monday night. Elections Canada officials told polling stations those who were in line at 9:30 p.m. still had the right to cast their votes.
After the last federal campaign, in October 2019, Montreal and Laval had stood out on the Quebec electoral map as two islands of almost uninterrupted Liberal red surrounded, almost entirely, by an ocean of Bloc blue.
With the exception of Rosemont—la
Petite-patrie, which stayed loyal to Boulerice and the NDP, and La Pointe-de-l'île in east-end Montreal, which garnered the Bloc Québécois its sole seat on the island, 16 of Montreal's 18 ridings went Liberal, as did all four of Laval's.
Most of the ridings directly surrounding Montreal and Laval went Bloc. The exceptions were the South Shore ridings of Longueuil— Charles-lemoyne and Châteauguay-lacolle, where the Liberals beat out the Bloc by slim margins, and Brossard—saint-lambert, which has a large anglophone and allophone population, where the Liberals won by nearly 20,000 votes. Off the western tip of the island in Vaudreuil-soulanges, Liberal Peter Schiefke won by a large margin over his Bloc opponent.
Otherwise the Bloc had dominated the suburbs, but sometimes only narrowly, with the result both the Liberals and Bloc spent much of this year's campaign focusing their efforts in ridings on Montreal's periphery.
This federal election campaign has been a slightly unorthodox one, in that there has not been one single main issue that has become an overriding concern or flashpoint for the electorate, James Kelley, a political-science professor at Concordia University, noted earlier in the campaign. Because of that, and judging from polling numbers, Kelley forecast this year's elections would look much like the last in the Montreal region.
It had remained to be seen, however, whether the upheaval wrought by the English leaders debate, in which the commentator inflamed Quebec nationalist passions by calling Bills 21 and 96, its secularism and language legislation, “discriminatory” in a question posed to Bloc Leader Yves-françois Blanchet, would serve to help the Bloc Québécois. Or whether Premier François Legault's assertion that a Conservative minority government would serve as the best outcome for Quebec would help the Conservatives gain more than their current 10 seats in the province. Or whether it would aid the Liberals by enticing some Bloc voters in tight races to cast their lot with the party of Erin O'toole.
In Montreal, affordable housing emerged as one of the top issues, along with climate change, the economy and health care.
While western Montreal, with its large anglophone and allophone populations historically can be relied upon to stay Liberal, the eastern side of the island is known for more volatility, swinging from Bloc to NDP and to Liberals as the winds of change and issues dictate.