If you’re a Liberal in Quebec, this does not promise to be a relaxing or fun weekend.
Expect more of a chain-smoking, nail-biting, lying-in-bed-sweating-can’t-sleep-too-stressed kind of weekend.
Monday is By-election Night in the Province of Quebec, and the stakes are higher than normal for everyone, but especially for the Liberal Party of Canada and its Quebec-born leader Stéphane Dion.
This morning’s polls (French-language link) in La Presse show Liberals can expect to finish a distant third in Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean and Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, two ridings in which they haven’t been competitive for years.
But the worst news is on the Island of Montreal, the only place left in Quebec – outside of a riding in the Outaouais and one in Laval – where the Liberals actually have any seats. In Outremont – as safe a Liberal riding as still exists in the province – not only is Dion’s handpicked candidate in a neck-and-neck battle with the NDP’s star candidate Thomas Mulcair, but today’s poll shows Mulcair running ahead of Liberal Jocelyn Coulon 38 to 32 per cent.
It is worth pointing out here that in the entire history of the party, the NDP has (briefly) held a total of one seat in Quebec, also won by a star candidate in a by-election.
Chantal Hébert outlines the scope of Monday’s potential disaster for Dion here, and reports that Liberals have been having trouble recruiting campaign workers in the riding. Indeed, I’ve heard that emergency Liberals from outside Quebec will be flocking to Montreal on the weekend for door-knocking and possible smoked-meat-scarfing.
It won’t be an easy weekend either for members of the Quebec Liberal Party, who are meeting amid questions about the political future of party leader Jean Charest.
Charest, premier of a very narrow minority government, is running last in the polls among the three major parties and faces a leadership confidence vote in six months.
The good news for Charest: No one is actively campaigning for his job. Why not? Maybe because all heir-apparent wannabes know their history:
Charest’s Liberals have won two consecutive elections (the last one, barely). It has been more than a half-century since a political party in Quebec won power more than twice in a row. So, the next election may remain Charest’s to lose.
Won’t make this weekend any easier. A couple of coffees with each smoked meat sandwich may help keep you going until Tuesday morning…