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After knocking on 10,000 doors in Lac-Saint-Jean, Liberals eyeing more Quebec Chairs

28 Oct 17
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From the 2011 election, the federal Liberal candidate hardly registered in the Quebec riding of Lac-Saint-Jean with 4 percent of the vote. From the 2015 election, the Liberal vote climbed to 18 percent, but it was still far behind the Conservatives — the party’s worst result east of Saskatchewan.

When the Liberals won Lac-Saint-Jean with 39 percent of the vote at a by-election Monday, they made it clear that they have expansionist designs in the state.

On the floor, the effort revealed that the Liberal Party’s favourite strategy — knocking on as many doors as possible — is taking hold in Quebec, where it was less popular than in the rest of Canada. Liberal officials stated they hit 10,000 addresses throughout the by-election and pledged to keep on using the strategy to a greater extent across Quebec.

“Our work’s far from over,” said Christine Poirier, the party’s director of operations in Quebec. “We will continue to knock on as many doors as possible — to talk to as many Quebeckers as possible to hear their priorities and keep connected.”

Concerning policy, the success showcased the Liberals’ ability to be successful in the ballot box with a Quebec lieutenant or maybe a plan specifically designed to cater to the state’s political sensitivities.

Liberal officials said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making it “a point of pride” that his offering at Quebec is essentially identical to what he’s doing across the nation, with a focus on families, jobs and infrastructure spending.

Part of this comes from his lineage: Mr. Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, consistently opposed the constitutional recognition of Quebec as a distinct society. But, senior advisers said, the Prime Minister also believes that his political style, which is heavy on public consultations and optimism, can win over voters in each province.

“He never bought the notion you had to do politics differently in Quebec. That came out of his own nomination in Papineau, which he won by pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, persuading individuals and signing them up. It is conservative, but hard work in the area pays off anywhere,” said a Liberal officer who agreed to discuss electoral strategy on the condition of anonymity.

The other national parties took note of their by-election success, which left them wondering if there are any ridings at this stage which aren’t inside the Liberal Party’s grasp.

After digesting Monday’s results, NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice said there “was no cause to celebrate” his party’s fourth-place finish. Conservative MP Gérard Deltell said losing the chair and finishing in 2nd place “wasn’t the outcome we hoped for,” adding voters had clearly opted “to side with the party in power.

“In two years’ time it’ll be an entirely different story, as the people of Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec and all of Canada will have a opportunity to pass judgment on this government’s wretched management of major issues,” Mr. Deltell added.

However, a new Léger poll, done between Monday and Wednesday, indicates the Liberals haven’t suffered from recent missteps by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly. The Liberals are top with 44-per-cent support in Quebec, well before the Conservative Party (19 percent), the Bloc Québécois (18 percent) and the NDP (13 percent).

The Liberals now have 41 of 78 seats in Quebec. The amount could even increase in the short term if former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair retires and opens his Montreal seat of Outremont into a by-election.

The Liberals spent months preparing for Lac-Saint-Jean. Whenever Conservative MP Denis Lebel announced his retirement in June, the Liberals ran a poll to judge their support in the riding. The results revealed they had an 18-point lead.

By coincidence, one of the best Quebeckers from the Prime Minister’s Office, deputy director of operations Claude-Éric Gagné, hails from the riding. He affirmed to his colleagues that, in his opinion, the race was winnable, sources said.

In late July, Mr. Trudeau showed up for a huge street festival in Roberval, just before an international swimming competition across Lac-Saint-Jean, where he was mobbed for hours by locals searching for pictures and handshakes. The Liberals chose to go big, sending half a dozen organizers from Montreal to conduct two campaign offices at the large riding.

Running for the Liberals was Richard Hébert, a local mayor. To boost his visibility across the riding, the party held a Quebec caucus summer meeting in Alma ahead of the by-election launching and frequently sent cabinet ministers to campaign.

Subsequently Mr. Trudeau returned two days under a week before the vote.

“Our leader is truly popular — people like him a lot,” Ms. Poirier said. “Additionally, his policies are extremely appreciated, and we found in Lac-Saint-Jean that people like things such as the Canada Child Benefit and tax cuts for the middle class. That’s the major key to our success{}”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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