Montreal Gazette

Liberals look to wrest Rivière-des-mille-îles back from the Bloc

- PAUL CHERRY pcherry@postmedia.com

One riding north of Montreal might prove to be the litmus test of how the Liberals performed in this election in Quebec.

The Rivière-des-mille-îles riding north of Montreal was expected to be a close race, given how Bloc Québécois MP Luc Desilets won the seat by less than 3,000 votes in 2019.

In the election held two years ago, Desilets, 63, won with 40 per cent of the vote. Linda Lapointe, 61, the Liberal MP who represente­d the riding between 2015-19, finished second with 36 per cent of votes. Lapointe is running for the Liberals again in this election.

The riding — which includes the municipali­ties of Rosemere, Boisbriand, Deux Montagnes and Saint-eustache — is just the type the Liberals hoped to take back when they called for the election in August with hopes of forming a majority government again.

But Rivière-des-mille-îles can't be taken for granted by any party. Since 2000, it has sent candidates from three different par ties — Bloc Québécois, NDP and Liberal — to the House of Commons.

It was also one a few ridings several media outlets pointed to as potentiall­y being a reflection of whether many voters in Quebec were swayed to the Bloc Québécois after its leader, Yves-françois Blanchet, and other politician­s criticized a question posed to him during the English-language debate held on Sept. 9 as “Quebec bashing.”

On Sept. 16, Desilets took to Twitter and noted the organizers of the debate had yet to apologize for the question and wrote: “Quebecers will draw their own conclusion­s.”

On Monday, Desilets tweeted that he was “proud of a positive campaign focused on proposals for Quebecers.”

In the Mirabel riding, the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois are running new candidates, even though the Bloc won the riding easily in 2019.

Simon Marcil, the Bloc Québécois candidate who took the riding with more than 51 per cent of votes two years ago, ended up going on a year-long leave from the House of Commons in 2020 until he revealed in December that he was suffering from bipolar disorder.

In June, Marcil announced he wouldn't run again and during his departing speech to the House of Commons on June 15, Simon criticized Canada and claimed it had “usurped” most of its national symbols from Quebec.

“These symbols include the maple leaf, which hardly grows anywhere else in Canada, our music, the lyrics of the national anthem, the beaver, which Canada does not have, and even poutine,” Marcil told the House of Commons. “Can we agree that there is no edible poutine west of the Ottawa River.”

The Bloc's new candidate in this election is Jean-denis Garon, an economics professor at Université du Québec a Montréal.

The Liberals finished a distant second in 2019 with nearly 25 per cent of votes. Their candidate in this election is 25-year-old François Loza, who is running in his first election.

While the Liberals were hoping to take back ridings like Rivièredes-mille-îles on Monday night, they were also hoping to hold onto the four ridings in Laval that they won by wide margins in 2019.

In the Vimy riding, directly across Rivière-des-prairies from Montreal's Ahuntsic-cartiervil­le borough, Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis, 60, is the incumbent.

Despite running in her first election in 2019, she easily won the seat with more than 47 per cent of votes, compared to nearly 28 per cent for the Bloc candidate.

This time around, the Bloc is running a new candidate in Rachid Bandou. He previously ran as a candidate for the Parti Québécois in 2014.

The Conservati­ves finished third in Vimy in 2019 and Rima El-helou is running for them this year.

In Alfred-pellan, the Laval riding that covers the eastern section of the island, Liberal MP Angelo Iacono, 56, won the riding in 2019 with nearly 48 per cent of votes. He has held the seat in the House of Commons since 2015.

The Bloc finished second in the 2019 election with more than 28 per cent of votes and Isabel Dion is running for that party this time around.

In Laval-les-îles, which covers the western part of the island, the incumbent is Fayçal El-khoury, another Liberal MP from Laval who easily defeated all other candidates in 2019. Fayçal garnered more than 48 per cent of votes in 2019 while the Bloc Québécois was a distant second with only 20 per cent.

Guillaume Jolivet is running for the Bloc in this election while Spyridonas Pettas is running for the Conservati­ves.

In Marc-aurèle-fortin, a section of the centre of Laval located north of Highway 440, Liberal MP Yves Robillard is the incumbent. He also won his riding easily in 2019, but not by as wide a margin as the three other Laval Liberal MPS.

Robillard won in 2019 with more than 44 per cent of votes, while the Bloc Québécois candidate finished second with more than 32 per cent.

This time around, Manon Lacharité is running for the Bloc while Sarah Petrari is running for the Conservati­ves, who finished third in 2019.

 ?? DAVE SIDAWAY ?? Sylvie Fournier and Marc Dandurand check their phones in the limited seating hall for the Bloc Québécois at Pierre-péladeau Centre on Monday. The Bloc expect some tight races north of Montreal.
DAVE SIDAWAY Sylvie Fournier and Marc Dandurand check their phones in the limited seating hall for the Bloc Québécois at Pierre-péladeau Centre on Monday. The Bloc expect some tight races north of Montreal.

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