Thursday, September 20, 2007

NDP Hit List in Quebec

The NDP is brimming with joy after Monday's by-election victory in Outremont. What's next for Mulcair and the NDP in Quebec? The Halifax Chronicle Herold reports:

Mulcair will stay on as the party’s Quebec lieutenant and is already busy fundraising, organizing and recruiting candidates in a province that has traditionally been a wasteland for New Democrats.

But he said Monday’s result has already made an impression on his possible recruits. One name being bandied about as a possible candidate is Julius Grey, a high-profile human rights lawyer from Montreal.

"The victory will make it easier for us to recruit high-profile candidates," Mulcair said.

"We’ve been speaking with people all along. But let me just say the body language is becoming far more positive (after Monday)."

The New Democrats will now turn their attention to specific pockets of the province where they believe they have the best chance of making additional gains. A main target will be ridings similar to Outremont: multi-ethnic, federalist and urban.

Mulcair said that parts of Montreal are prized targets, as are some resource-producing regions in outlying areas.

Here are the ridings the NDP is likely to target, without much success in my view.

Hull--Aylmer: The NDP's third best Quebec result in 2006 (15.5%). Although the riding is not located in Montreal, the dynamics are similar in that we see declining Liberal vote totals over the course of the last few elections. Former NDP leadership candidate Pierre Ducasse will be running for the NDP, having failed to come close in the Manicouagan riding in 2004 or 2006. Ducasse is smart, articulate, and dedicated, but his popularity within the party does not necessarily translate into votes come election time. That said, the gap between the Liberals and the NDP in this riding is smaller than the gap that existed in Outremont. Still, Ducasse is no Thomas Mulcair. Consider this the NDP's #1 target for a new seat in Quebec.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce--Lachine: The NDP's sixth best Quebec result in 2006 (11.8%). A Liberal fortress in Montreal represented by popular Liberal MP Marlene Jennings. The NDP has room to grow, but it would require nothing short of a miracle for the party to knock off Jennings.

Westmount--Ville-Marie [QC]: The NDP's 4th best Quebec result (15.4%). A Liberal stronghold neighbouring Outremont. Unfortunately for the NDP, there are not enough BQ votes to bleed to the NDP to make a difference in this this riding

Laurier--Sainte-Marie: The NDP's second best Quebec result in 2006 (16.9%). However, this sovereignist stronghold, which neighbours Outremont, is currently held by BQ leader Gilles Duceppe who took well over 50% of the vote in 2006. The NDP finished 5th here behind the Marijuana Party in 2000.

Manicouagan: The NDP's fifth best Quebec result in 2006 (12.8%). An outlying riding which saw some of the NDP's best numbers in 2004 and 2006 thanks to the candidacy of former NDP leadership candidate Pierre Ducasse. However, the NDP still finished in 4th place in 2006 and without Ducasse as a candidate, NDP fortunes do not seem very bright.

Rosemont--La Petite-Patrie: The NDP's seventh best Quebec result in 2006 (11.6%). A Montreal riding, neighbouring Outremont, respresented by the BQ since 1993. A sovereignist stronghold. The NDP could aim for second place here, but there is too much ground to make up. The party finished 6th place here in 2000.

Gatineau: An awkward vote split could give the NDP longshot odds in Gatineau where it took 10% of the vote in 2006. The victorious BQ candidate won only 39.3%.



Thanks for the backgrounder and Duccasse had his chance and he has not got the job done, either by building the party in Quebec or by being a viable candidate. Thus Layton stepped in and woed Mulcair. Ducasse's days are numbered and as you point out if he was 'electorally' smart he would move out of the way to let a name candidate run. His work, admirable as it is, is more policy wonk than either organizer or politician.

Joffré said...

Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou is also likely to be a target (and winnable) if Romeo Saganash runs.
I also think that the party might try making a serious run at a seat in the Québec area, if for no other reason that there's a decent (for NDPQ, at least) organisation on the ground there and to not appear "too Montréal".

As for Laurier-Ste-Marie, my wet dream has Amir Khadir making the jump over from QS to take on Duceppe. I don't know what his chances would be (I've had this feeling for a while that Duceppe's popularity numbers are really soft and could easily crumble), but he'd certainly make the Bloc shit their pants

Unknown said...

A very good list. I would expect the top two are 1) Hull and 2)Westmont.

1) Hull has many of the same dynamics of Outremont. An urban riding with a high potentional NDP base that has seen Liberal numbers decline each election with the Bloc in 2nd and a notable new NDP challenger that could shake things up. Unlike Outremont, the NDP has a strong local organization with Ottawa next door and bordering an existing NDP riding.

2. Westmont is historically considered almost as rock solid as Mount Royal by Liberals, but this no longer necessarily the case. This is a very long shot to say the least but the weak Liberal incumbent is retiring and the riding borders Outremont, having many of the same factors (with the exception of the bloc vote, which is significant). Also... this is Julius Grey territory. It would be another very interesting by-election if Robillard does not wait for the next election (whenever that may be) to leave.

3. Rosemont and Duceppe's riding (after he is gone, not until) would be interesting experiments, but challenging the BQ directly rather than using their support to topple Liberals is an entirely different dynamic.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Very interesting--thanks for doing all the research for this!

I agree that Westmount-Ville Marie and Hull-Aylmer will be the top two targets. Of the two, I think Westmount is more likely if they play their cards right.

JG said...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I do not want anyone recently in Quebec Solidaire running for the NDP. They are avowed sovereigntists.

uncorrectedproofs said...

Josh, That kind of attitude is not going to win the NDP more seats in Quebec.

Ken Summers said...

Thats nonsense about Pierre Ducasse not being a viable candidate, and ridiculous about him not buiding the party.

Pierre is not just a policy wonk, and the fact he was never competitive as a candidate when the NDP ran single digits in the region means nothing.

He can start with a new slate in Hull and will draw people to work in the campaign. He has good candidate skills. He is not a star candidate, but you don't run only 'star candidates' even in good seats.

The Liberals develop a lot of their candidates- this has both pragmatic and substantive / 'motivational' advantages.

Ken Summers said...

I'd like to temper my comment that it's ridiculous to say that Pierre Ducasse did not 'get the job done of building the party in Quebec... or make my comment more substantive.

What's the measure of success here? Single handedly building riding organizations in a 75 seat NDP wasteleand?

As to him being a policy wonk 'instead' of an organizer- when Pierre started a few years ago, the NDP didn't just have a [severe] general credibility problem, it had a de facto policy that francophones, as well as a lot of anglophones, found thoroughly alienating.

It took a lot of time consuming fence building as well as substantive policy building to put together something everyone in the NDP was satisfied with.

This was a pre-condition for the NDP organizing to go beyond the single digit range in Quebec. The new policy did not get vetted until Convention a year ago; but had it not been in the works well before, Quebeckers would not have taken another look at the NDP, Mulcair included.

It is ridiculous to compare Ducasse and Mulcair. There was never a chance that Pierre could play the role that Mulcair has. Not to mention that there had to be a lot of quiet building work done before Mulcair could play the role he is so suited for.