Photo: Francis Vachon Le Devoir The Parti Québécois candidate for the by-election in Jean-Talon Talon, Pascal Paradis
The southwest end of the Jean-Talon riding, where an important by-election will be held on Monday, corresponds to a sector of Quebec commonly described here as “the head of the bridges.”
This expression refers at the place where the northern ends of the Quebec and Pierre-Laporte bridges rest, the two links which connect the capital to the South Shore.
In military strategy, a slight variation, “head bridge”, refers rather to a conquered area inside enemy territory whose function is to facilitate deployment operations.
From his 25 years in politics, François Legault has shown that he knows to what extent Monday's election could define the future.
“When we look at history — not just the government of the CAQ [Coalition Avenir Québec] — it's never easy for a government, a by-election,” he said on August 29.
The Prime Minister then announced that Marie-Anik Shoiry would represent his party in Jean-Talon.
Two weeks earlier, a poll carried out on behalf of the Parti Québécois placed the sovereignist party neck and neck with the CAQ in the constituency, which brings together the boroughs of Sainte-Foy and Sillery.
The first passes of arms began even before the launch of the campaign and the formalization of the candidacies.
The CAQ transmitted information to La Presse according to which the PQ candidate prospective candidate, Pascal Paradis, had discussed with Mr. Legault's cabinet a candidacy for the 2022 general elections.
But these revelations turned against the CAQ when Mr. Paradis affirmed that, in his discussions with cabinet director Martin Koskinen, there was already talk of abandoning the highway tunnel project between Quebec and Lévis a year before that Mr. Legault backed down on this issue last May.
“Never, never was there any question before the election last October of abandoning the third motorway link project,” the Prime Minister swore this same August 29.
En following the candidates from door to door, on the ground, over the last two weeks, Le Devoir was able to observe how the mood of part of the electorate could change. express Monday.
Silence on the third link
Marie-Anik Shoiry, a 43-year-old lawyer who runs a mutual aid organization, is trying to ensure that its formation retains Jean-Talon, a former liberal castle held by the CAQ since 2019.
In Sainte-Foy, a first voter told her that she would “probably” get his vote. He is concerned about the generous financial support intended for the battery sector. “It’s a lot of money, and I don’t know to what extent it will produce the expected results,” he says.
Further on, a teleworker with an immigrant background puts the candidate in guard. “I think the CAQ has slipped,” she said. You need to rethink your thinking, especially your senior leaders, regarding immigration. »
Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Prime Minister François Legault and the CAQ candidate, Marie- Anik Shoiry
During the tour, Ms. Shoiry told Devoirthat falling back on the third link is not a problem, and the door-to-door knocking bears witness to this that day. “I don’t talk about it very much,” she explains.
Daughter of a former mayor of Sillery, she avoids saying who her main opponent is in this election. It then specifies what the voters' choice is. “Do they want an MP whose priority will be to work for the citizens of Jean-Talon in a constructive way, or do they rather want an opposition MP whose primary objective will be to establish the sovereignty of Quebec and work against the government? »
At full speed
On this Monday afternoon of intermittent rain, the PQ candidate, Pascal Paradis, marches at full speed, square Bochart, in Sainte-Foy. A voter recognizes him when he opens it.
“You have my vote,” he says unequivocally.
He tells her about the controversy sparked by his flirtingwith the CAQ, and contradictory versions which made the headlines at the end of August.
— We don't like it when people lie. I'm talking about the CAQ's lies about you, he says.
— Someone who stands up straight for the truth, do you like that? asks the 52-year-old candidate.
A newcomer to politics, the co-founder of Lawyers Without Borders Canada would have liked a less controversial introduction. But he recognizes that the situation has not only had disadvantages. “My name has been mentioned hundreds of times, thousands of times,” he notes.
A few doors further, another voter spoke to him about the CAQ’s decline on the third highway link . “The problem with the current government is that they are too strong,” he told the candidate.
Pascal Paradis affirms that voters spoke to him about sovereignty. But above all the cost of living, housing, environment, public transport and welcoming new arrivals.
He endorses the decision of his leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, to postpone until October the publication of a new update of the budget of a sovereign Quebec so that the party can devote itself to the partial election.
“There won’t be any big surprises. Each time, it demonstrates that Quebec as a sovereign country would be a completely viable state,” he asserts.
A close race
For its part, Québec solidaire (QS) would like to elect Olivier Bolduc. The court stenographer is a candidate for the third time in Jean-Talon.
Mr. Bolduc, who finished in second place in 2022, is working to dispel the impression that the race is between the Parti Québécois and the CAQ.
“Nothing leads us to believe that we will do worse than last time », he says.
QS chose that evening to knock on the doors of Sillery, on streets where German sport utility vehicles and electric cars are parked in front of residences. “Solidarity has no socio-economic profile,” explains the 35-year-old candidate.
Photo: Francis Vachon Le Devoir The candidate for Québec solidaire, Olivier Bolduc
To a voter, the candidate praises a tax credit that QS would like to introduce to promote multi-generational homes. “The cost of living, at the moment, is not just the less fortunate… It hits everyone, the middle class, small business owners. »
To a young father who opens the door with his child in his arms, Olivier Bolduc emphasizes that the partial vote is an opportunity to increase the opposition. “Our support is holding up, even growing, but it’s still going to be tight,” he told the voter.
< p>In Sillery, the liberal candidate, Élise Avard Bernier, begins her door-to-door campaign at dusk, rue Albert-Lozeau. The first door is opened by a friend of the candidate with whom she went to school in the neighborhood and whose support is acquired.
She has less luck at the neighboring residence. A voter welcomes it warmly, but he does not support it. “You are brave. THANKS. We must keep the Liberal Party on the map. Thank you for introducing yourself. »
A little further away, on avenue Ernest-Lavigne, an elderly lady deplores the recent heartbreaks which led to the departure of Dominique Anglade. “Me, Madam, the liberals have always been in my soup,” she nevertheless asserts.
She hopes that someone will be interested in the leadership of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ). “Move a little, come back to the map,” she asks.
According to Élise Avard Bernier, the government's star has faded due to the decline in the third link, after the honeymoon prolonged by the pandemic.
The PLQ finished fourth in Jean-Talon in 2022, but the 38-year-old candidate, digital media entrepreneur, remains hopeful that liberals who voted for the CAQ will return to the fold.
“People say they wanted change, that they didn't like how it went and that they wanted to punish [the PLQ],” she says.
Against the tramway
Originally from Alberta, the candidate of the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ), Jesse Robitaille, demonstrates a certain naturalness in his way of campaigning door-to-door, even if he admits that it's “not necessarily very pleasant.”
“There are people who don't want to be disturbed,” says the 24-year-old candidate, at Quebec for six years.
Photo: Francis Vachon Le Devoir The conservative candidate, Jesse Robitaille
A few moments earlier, Friday afternoon, rue du Chanoine-Groulx, a retired couple listened to him explain his program at length. Favorable to the third link, both voted for the CAQ in the last elections. “The government disappointed us greatly in the spring. “It's certain that he won't get my vote,” said the voter.
Jesse Robitaille affirms that even if he is not elected, he will have achieved his objective of making mobility a theme of the campaign.
Contrary to the other parties, the PCQ is fiercely opposed to the tram project financed in part by the government of Quebec, the costs of which will be revised beyond 4 billion dollars planned.
Mr. Robitaille, who is studying to become a paramedic, has a very personal argument. While attempting to cross the Calgary streetcar tracks in 2022, he was hit by a truck. The cause, according to him, is the congestion that the tramway causes at intersections.
“I saw the plans for the one in Quebec and that worried me a lot,” he says.< /p>
With Sarah Boumedda, Catherine Bombardier and Dave Noël