September 18, 2007

NDP storms Liberal stronghold

NDP storms Liberal stronghold
Dippers rejoice in Outremont by-election
• antonio di domizio
For the last 75 years, the Liberal stronghold of Outremont voted Liberal all but once. Even at the height of the sponsorship scandal, Jean Lapierre held off all opponents.

Monday night, Thomas Mulcair and the NDP stormed “Fortress Outremont” and the riding is now NDP territory. At McGill University, Mulcair promised the “Ground Zero of the Orange Revolution.” On Monday night, he delivered.

The NDP scored the upset with a resounding 49% of the vote. The Liberals came in second with a dismal 28%. (that was at time of press.)

Both political machines were buzzing at different speeds Monday with over 500 volunteers helping out Mulcair while the mood in the Liberal headquarters was rather sombre as many knew defeat was most likely.

The Outremont by-election has mostly been fought on two issues: the environment and the war in Afghanistan.

Layton addressed the NDP's position on both topics lucidly at McGill last Friday. He said that after thirteen years of Liberal inaction, only the NDP act on the environment, and cut the $1.2 billion subsidy to the Canadian oilsands. Mulcair's experience as the provincial environment minister has won him support across party lines and helped him pull out the victory Monday.
The anti-war sentiment in Montreal also helped Mulcair at the polls. On Afghanistan, Layton reiterated the NDP's controversial position of an immediate withdrawal of Canadian soldiers from Kandahar province. “There is less security right now in Afghanistan than there was before Canadian soldiers got there,” said Layton. He also stated that if “Canada is going to play a leadership role in making the peace in Afghanistan, we have to stop fighting.”

The Liberal campaign has been marked by panic and infighting that has become not only public, but increasingly ugly. Over the weekend, a Liberal insider claimed former Ignatieff supporters were “sabotaging” Liberal chances in the riding. Organizers in the riding dispute that. Overall, it dampened the enthusiasm throughout the campaign.

With the crushing results coming in, many dejected Liberals listened to leader Stephane Dion console his troops. “We must rejoice that federalist parties progressed tonight. We will bounce back together.” Federalist parties won two of the three by-elections contested Monday with the Conservatives taking Roberval-Lac St. Jean and the Bloc Quebecois holding on to Saint-Hyacinthe Bagot.

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3 Commentaires:

Blogger Alisa a dit...

The NDP put in a really strong effort in Outremont behind a rock solid candidate with a lot of name recognition; I've never seen so much voter outreach from them (admittedly I don't hang out at their campaigns much.) I passed the Mulcair office every day on my way home up Parc Ave. (I live in Mile End.) Even weeks ago, it was busy with energetic-looking volunteers, inside and out. Mulcair has a sign up on virtually every post, tree, and half the balonies in the riding; everyone else's presence is kind of sadsack, with the Conservatives even resorting to adding stickers to their posters to remind people that their candidate represents the governing party, not that that did anything for them. The NDP also put in a concerted effort to get out the vote: I saw a bunch of election-day doorknockers out. Voter turnout was still pretty low (under 40%) but Mulcair managed to really energize his base.

Honestly, this riding is the best chance the NDP has ever had in Quebec. You have Mile End - a young, multiethnic and anglo-skewing neighbourhood that delivered strongly for the NDP the last time around (if the individual polling stations are numbered the same.) Outremont itself was divided between Lapierre and the Bloc candidate in the last election, Cote-des-neiges went more Liberal.

The real story here isn't that the Liberal lost; it's clear that Liberal turnout must have been both low and bleeding over to the NDP, although once the detailed results are up on elections canada it'll be more apparent. The Liberal vote in Outremont has been declining for a while and the last two races were fairly close. With Lapierre as the incumbent, his 40% lead melted away to 35% in the last election; under Coulon Liberal support shrunk to 29%. But the Bloc has gone from 33% to 29% to only 10% of the vote. That's disastrous for the party that used to give Lapierre a run for his money. Either all the Bloc supporters stayed at home or they've migrated to the NDP en masse. Now isn't that interesting?

9/18/2007 11:51 AM  
Blogger leftdog a dit...

Very cool label for this post!!!

9/18/2007 4:21 PM  
Blogger Mary Soderstrom a dit...

Having spent far more time than I meant to campaigning for Thomas Mulcair, let me say that the most striking thing about this victory is the way the people--old, young, Francophone, Anglophone, Allophone--responded to his courage, integrity and candor in standing up to the provincial Liberal government of which he had been a member on some important issues.

The NDP has almost always got 10 per cent of the vote in Outremont--a large and varied urban riding--even when they haven't run a good campaign. The only other time a non-Liberal ran is also directly related to a strong NDP campaign. Liberal Lucie Pépin and NDPer Louise O'Neill split the left/left centre vote in 1988 and the PC's Jean-Pierre Hogue slipped through to victory.

I was very involved in that campaign, and the result put me off active politics for 10 years. But the ground is shifting and maybe we'll actually be able to do some good in the next little bit.

Cheers

Mary

9/19/2007 10:24 AM  

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