Montreal Gazette

Liberal stars leading, with one exception

Guilbeault and NDP'S Machouf in tight race in Laurier—sainte-marie


Polls taken in the last days of this federal election campaign projected most central Montreal ridings would once again be cake walks for the Liberals, with the possible exception of Laurier—sainte-marie, where NDP candidate Nimâ Machouf was projected to give incumbent Steven Guilbeault a more serious run for his money this time.

Most of the Liberal stronghold­s in central Montreal did not appear to be changing hands, according to very early returns Monday evening.

But recent polls had indicated Guilbeault — elected as the environmen­tal star candidate for the Liberals in 2019 and then named minister of Canadian Heritage — might face a challenge from Machouf this time, as the five-week campaign wound down.

Machouf, a respected epidemiolo­gist and community activist, saw her profile rise during the pandemic, as media outlets went to her regularly for comment on public health issues. She has a long political history with progressiv­e parties on the municipal and provincial levels, winning a seat for Projet Montréal back in 2009. In the 2019 federal election, she took just shy of 13,000 votes, to Guilbeault's 21,551, while Bloc candidate Michel Duchesne took almost 12,000.

Guilbeault, a former campaigner for Greenpeace and co-founder of Montreal-based environmen­tal organizati­on Equiterre, was passed over for the environmen­t portfolio, although he has been instrument­al in developing the Liberals' current policies on the climate crisis.

Guilbeault was favoured to win again this time but by a smaller margin, according to the 338Canada project's Sept. 19 projection. The website builds projection­s based on opinion polls, electoral histories of each riding and demographi­c data.

That modelling had Guilbeault heading for 38 per cent of the vote in Laurier—sainte-marie, while Machouf seemed within striking distance at 30 per cent, with margins of error of 9 and 8 per cent respective­ly. The riding was described by the site as “Liberal likely,” while other central Montreal ridings were described as “Liberal safe.”

But on Monday evening shortly before the polls closed, Guilbeault was confident. He acknowledg­ed Machouf's profile has increased, but not enough, he said, to pose a serious threat. His three recent appearance­s on popular talk show Tout le monde en parle, along with his work on the web giant file, he said, have raised his profile, also. “I've seen no indication that the results will differ significan­tly from last time,” he said.

Meanwhile, the 338Canada project described the following Liberal stronghold­s as, unsurprisi­ngly, “safe” for the Liberal Party of Canada, and very early returns seemed to bear that out. Notre-dame-de-grâce—westmount: Former astronaut Marc Garneau, who was minister of Foreign Affairs when parliament was dissolved in August, was expected to win 51 per cent of the vote (margin of error: 9 per cent) in that district. His closest challenger was projected to be the NDP'S Emma Elbourne-weinstock, who was polling at a distant second place with 18 per cent (margin: 6 per cent). Lasalle—émard—verdun: Liberal David Lametti, who held the minister of Justice and Attorney General portfolios in the last parliament, was projected to get 39 per cent of the vote, while the Bloc's Raphaël Guérard and the NDP'S Jason De Lierre seemed to be heading for a tie for a distant, shared second place finish. Ville-marie—le Sud-ouest—îledes-soeurs: Incumbent Marc Miller, recently minister of Indigenous Services in the Trudeau government, was also projected to achieve close to 50 per cent of the vote, with his nearest rival, the NDP'S Sophie Thiébaut far behind at a projected 18 per cent, and the Bloc's Soledad Orihuela-bouchard at 12 per cent. The Conservati­ves' Steve Shanahan, a former Montreal city councillor, was the only other candidate in that riding heading for double-digit support, at 11 per cent.

Ahuntsic—cartiervil­le: Mélanie Joly, whose most recent portfolio with the Liberal government was minister of Economic Developmen­t and Official Languages, was also projected to win comfortabl­y at 48 per cent as the campaign ended. Her closest rival looked to be the NDP'S Ghada Chaabi, which the latest poll gave 18 per cent support, with the Bloc's Anna Simonyan and the Conservati­ves' Steven Duarte projected to be trailing at 12 and 11 per cent respective­ly. Mount Royal: Liberal incumbent Anthony Housefathe­r was projected to win 50 per cent of the vote in that riding, where he enjoys strong name recognitio­n. The former Côte-st-luc mayor was parliament­ary secretary to the minister of Labour in the most recent parliament. His closest rival seemed to be the Conservati­ves' Frank Cavallaro, who had 27 per cent projected voter support, with the NDP'S Ibrahim Bruno Elkhoury running a distant third at 9.9 per cent.

Outremont: Rachel Bendayan, who was elected in a February 2019 byelection necessitat­ed by former NDP Tom Mulcair's resignatio­n in 2018, was projected to win this riding handily. The most recent modelling projected her share of the vote at 44 per cent. Her closest rival was projected to be the NDP'S Ève Péclet (22 per cent), with the Bloc's Célia Grimard headed for third at 13 per cent, according to the 338Canada projection­s.

 ?? JOHN KENNEY ?? Liberal incumbent Steven Guilbeault did some last-minute campaignin­g on Saturday on Laurier St. E. in the riding of Laurier—sainte-marie.
JOHN KENNEY Liberal incumbent Steven Guilbeault did some last-minute campaignin­g on Saturday on Laurier St. E. in the riding of Laurier—sainte-marie.

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