Montreal Gazette

Bloc fighting to keep foothold in Quebec City area


The election in the Québec riding could be decided by the electorate's views on the power of redemption.

Bloc Québécois candidate Louis Sansfaçon, a former Sûreté du Québec undercover officer who went to prison three decades ago for drug traffickin­g, is challengin­g two-term Liberal incumbent Jeanyves Duclos.

Sansfaçon, who served 18 months of a seven-year sentence and received a pardon in 2010, has become an advocate for the rights of workers who are dealing with health problems. It's a project he launched with his daughter, Émilie, who died of cancer in 2020.

The 63-year-old Sansfaçon, who is in remission from bone marrow cancer, turned to the Bloc after the Liberal government failed to act on his plea to extend benefits to ill workers beyond the current 15 weeks. The Bloc is pushing for an extension to 50 weeks.

Duclos, a 55-year-old economist, defeated NDP incumbent Annick Papillon by 1,075 votes to win the seat in 2015, but his winning margin was reduced to 325 votes in 2019 when he defeated the Bloc's Christiane Gagnon. Gagnon held the seat from 1993 until 2011, when she lost to Papillon.

The Bloc holds only one of the five seats in the Quebec City area, and incumbent Julie Vignola faces two challenges in Beauport— Limoilou. The blue-collar riding is one of the least diverse in the country — 98 per cent of residents identify as French-canadian — and one of the 10 poorest in Canada.

It also boasts a fickle electorate. An incumbent has only won once since the riding was formed in 2004. That was in 2008 when Conservati­ve Sylvie Boucher held the seat she won two years earlier. Vignola, a teacher and environmen­tal activist, was a surprise winner in 2019 when she unseated Conservati­ve incumbent Alupa Clarke.

This time around, poll aggregator 338Canada forecasts a tight three-way race between Vignola, Clarke and Liberal Ann Gingras. The Liberals are the only major party that has not won the riding, but Antoine Bujold was a close third behind Clarke two years ago and the party has hopes for Gingras, a popular veteran union leader.

Gingras's nomination was surprising, however, given that she has criticized the Trudeau government in the past. In January 2019, she joined Davie Shipyard workers during a demonstrat­ion at a meeting of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party. She criticized the Liberals for favouring the Seaspan and Irving shipyards when awarding contracts related to the Canadian maritime strategy.

In the three other Quebec City ridings, the incumbents were favoured to retain the seats they won in 2015 and again in 2019.

Liberal Joël Lightbound was 27 when he became the youngest MP elected in the 2015 election, and the Mcgill law grad is a lock in Louis-hébert.

There are also two safe Conservati­ve seats. Gérard Deltell, the opposition leader in the House, won Louis-st-laurent by more than 14,000 votes in 2019. A former TV journalist, he was the leader of the Action démocratiq­ue du Québec (ADQ) party before entering federal politics.

Conservati­ve Pierre Paul-hus is poised to win a third term in Charlesbou­rg—haute-st-charles.

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