Races too close to call on historically red West Island
Voters in the traditionally Liberal West Island were not expected to change their stripes in the 2021 campaign.
While most of the West Island has usually been Liberal, the Vaudreuil-soulanges riding remained a question mark, as it has swung toward several parties in the last few elections. It remained to be seen if incumbent Peter Schiefke would be able to resist the surging Bloc. Early results showed Schiefke ahead of his opponents.
The riding encompasses one of the fastest-growing regions in Canada, with many young families moving off island from the suburbs, and as a result of its ever-changing demographics, it has become somewhat of a bellwether riding in recent elections.
It was a longtime Liberal stronghold when Nick Discepola held it up until 2004. But Meili Faille of the Bloc Québécois captured it for two elections before it was swept up in the Orange Wave in 2011 when hometown hero, Hudson native Jack Layton, led the NDP. Schiefke recaptured it for the Liberals in 2015, defeating Jamie Nicholls, who is Hudson's current mayor. Schiefke was hoping on Monday to be re-elected for a third term. He was being challenged by Thierry Vadnais-lapierre, the former vice president of the Bloc Québécois's youth forum, and a political science undergraduate student at Université de Montréal. The other candidates running were Niklas Brake for the NDP, Karen Cox for the Conservatives and Cameron Stiff for the Green. The PPC did not run a candidate in the riding.
Perhaps one of the most dependable ridings for the Liberals was likely to be a shoo-in for the Liberals. Held since 2004 by Francis Scarpaleggia, the former adviser to Clifford Lincoln, who also held the riding for many years. Scarpaleggia was ahead at press time Monday in the minutes after the polls closed.
Scarpaleggia is a dogged campaigner, shaking hands at the numerous train stations on the Vaudreuil-hudson train line during the morning rush hour. In parliament, he chaired the committee on electoral reform, after Trudeau had promised to eliminate the first-past-the-post system. His report, however, was shelved by the party in power.
While he won the riding with a 58 per cent plurality in 2019, that didn't seem to dissuade Ann Francis, who came in second with just 15 per cent of the vote. She returned to campaign against Scarpaleggia in this campaign. Rounding out the ticket were Jonathan Gray for the NDP, Milan Kona-mancini for Green, Rémi Lebeuf for the Bloc and Afia Lassy for the PPC.
With the language debate once again coming front and centre, it remained to be seen if Emmanuella Lambropoulos's comments on the future of the French language would hurt her chances to win a third term. As of press time, there were no results reporting for the riding.
First elected in a 2017 byelection to replace Stéphane Dion 2017, Lambropoulos stunned the party by winning the nomination over former provincial Liberal cabinet minister Yolande James.
As a representative of one of the most multicultural ridings in the country, Lambropoulos found herself in a media storm last year after the 31-year-old former teacher seemed to question whether the French language was in decline in Quebec. She walked back the comment following a backlash on social media, saying her comment was “insensitive.”
She offered to resign from the Standing Committee on Official Languages, and apologized.
“Rest assured that I will do everything to stop the decline of the French language in Quebec while protecting the rights of the English-speaking community, and I will work to protect it not only in Quebec, but across Canada,” she said.
Running against Lambropoulos were Nathan Devereaux for the NDP, Florence Racicot for the Bloc Québécois, Richard Serour for the Conservatives and Gregory Yablunovsky for PPC.
Incumbent MP Sameer Zuberi found himself combating racist graffiti during the election campaign. Zuberi posted a picture of one of his posters that was defaced and had racially charged language about his roots from Pakistan, where his father was born.
Zuberi, who was born in Montreal to a mother of Scottish decent, called the attack “appalling and cowardly.”
It was also denounced by the Canadian Muslim Forum.
Zuberi was hoping to win a second term as the polls closed. The contenders to unseat him were Nadia Bourque, from the Bloc, Terry Roberts of the Conservatives, Maninderjit Kaur Tumbar for the NDP and the PPC'S Mark Sibthorpe.
There were no results available at press time.
Another relative newcomer was also hoping to ride to a second term. Anju Dhillon is the first person of South Asian descent to be elected from the province of Quebec. She was going up against Conservative Jude Bazelais, the Bloc's Cloé Rose Jenneau, Laura Mariani of the Green Party, Fabiola Ngamaleu Teumeni for the NDP and Michael Patterson of the PPC.
No results had been reported as of press time.