Last year, the by-election in Levis salted not only the wounds of the PQ, but the entire sovereignist movement.
The CAQ brought the victory home while the separatists (PQ, QS and ON) pulled in a cumulative total of 8% of the vote.
Of course, the PQ spin doctors tried their best to explain the situation away and insist that their strength is largely drawn from other parts of the province, but you simply can’t polish a turd.
Levis was a damning indictment of separatist movement’s health.
Despite coming close to finding themselves back in the 2nd opposition position a year ago and suffering a humiliating loss in Levis a few months later, the PQ leadership hopefuls continue to plug away at holding a referendum.
So then, the question begs to be asked – if Richelieu proves to be another Levis, the PQ leadership hopefuls will truly look like buffoons if they continue to insist that an appetite for separation exists.
When Élaine Zakaïb retained her seat in Richelieu this time last year, she did it with close to 40% of the vote.
But there’s another intriguing factor to point out: in the 2012 election, she captured her seat with 43% of the vote.
Her PQ predecessor, Sylvain Simard, secured his seat with 47% of the vote.
That’s not all. Mr. Simard had also won previous elections in that riding with 56% in 1998 and 55% in 1994.
Yup, I think you see where I’m going with this.
Outcome & Impact:
Personally, I think the CAQ will take it home again.
While I’d love to watch the PQ flame out in spectacular style like they did in Levis, Richelieu is a different animal and worst-case scenario, they’ll come out with somewhere around the 26% mark.
If the CAQ succeeds in capturing Richelieu, they will be within 6 seats of the official opposition.
As I’ve predicted in the past, I see Jean-François Lisée calling it quits soon enough. He’s already pretty much a phantom deputy and he’s been treated as a pariah by his team ever since he came out against PKP. His riding is staunchly Péquiste, but if the Bloc Québecois can be usurped in the riding of Hochelaga, anything can happen.
Furthermore, since PKP WILL land the leadership and given his spoiled-brat nature, you can count on him turning on his opponents soon afterwards.
This will result in either resignations or defections.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see François Legault spearheading a campaign to snap up the disenfranchised leadership hopefuls and their supporters.
I can totally see Alexandre Cloutier in the CAQ.
If that happens, you can count on Cloutier selling his protégé, Léo Bureau-Blouin, on switching sides and managing the CAQ’s youth base, while also promising him a riding in the next election.
All this to say, no matter which side you’re on, there’s no arguing that Québec politics are an excellent spectator sport.