For the 2022 Quebec Election, we’re going to be taking a closer look at some ridings that many of our readers live in and that could play an interesting role in the big picture. I’m going to start it off with the riding I’ve lived in for a little over a year now, Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne.
Yes, the current MNA here is Dominique Anglade, Quebec Liberal (PLQ) Leader and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. So why is the riding represented by the head of a major establishment party one to watch?
Let’s find out:
- Location and Boundaries: It’s pretty much the Sud Ouest Borough of Montreal, encompassing all of St-Henri, Little Burgundy, Pointe-Saint-Charles and Ville Emard and most of Griffintown. Its northern boundary is Saint-Antoine/Autoroute 720 from Montreal West until Guy Street, then it becomes Notre-Dame Ouest. The southern boundary follows the Aqueduc Canal and then Autoroute 15. West-East, it goes from Angrignon Park to Boulevard Robert-Bourassa/Bonaventure Autoroute.
- Population: 73 674 (2006) with 58 171 electors (2016)
- Language: 55.4% Francophone, 24.4% Anglophone, 13.2% Allophone and 6.9% Multiple primary languages
- Age: The two largest age groups are 30-39 (20.4%) and 20-29 (19%)
- Ethnicity: 72.1% do not identify as a member of a visible minority while 27.9% do
- Income: 62.3% of the population falls into the $10 000 – $70 000 annual household income range, with the $10K-20K being the largest group (13.2%) and each next rung up accounting for slightly fewer people. Here’s a graph comparing Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne to the provincial average:
This is a riding in a state of flux, with many parts of it in varying states of gentrification: from the slow crawl class mix of St-Henri and Pointe-St-Charles to the full-on new condos seemingly every week of Griffintown. The population is younger, urban and bilingual (I know this more from living here than the stats). They run the economic gamut from working class to lower middle-class, with some upper middle class and wealthier individuals thrown into the mix.
Politically, this indicates that they are more likely care more about issues like affordable housing than language politics. They are also likely to lean progressive, at least socially, and in also economically in many parts of the riding.
While this isn’t the most ethnically diverse part of the city, it is in no way cut off from the rest of and could be considered at the heart of Montreal, a city that is quite ethnically diverse. Bill 21 and François Legault’s obsession with homogenizing immigrants probably don’t play that well around these parts.
A Liberal Stronghold with Cracks in the Foundation
This really sounds like a place where Québec solidaire (QS) would do well. They voted against Bill 21, have made housing a key issue for them this campaign and are the most progressive of the major parties running.
Then when you factor in the municipal landscape, things look even more promising for QS. The Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne provincial riding almost mirrors the boundaries of the Sud-Ouest Borough which has been a Projet Montréal stronghold since 2013.
Projet and QS have a similar progressive ethos and do pull from a similar base of supporters, so it seems like a logical extension. However, issues are different at the municipal level; people of all political stripes might like, say, bike paths.
Also, this riding has gone Liberal since it was formed in 1992. In recent elections, though, it has been far from the Liberal stronghold that Westmount-Saint-Louis or even NDG are.
In 2018, Anglade (who wasn’t leader at the time) won with 11 837 votes, but QS’s Benoit Racette got 7413. That’s a victory, for sure, but it’s a competitive one.
The same election the CAQ candidate got 5809 votes, the PQ 3568 and the Greens 1009. Now factor in that the CAQ really don’t care about Montreal ridings like they did last time as they don’t need us to win a majority and that the Parti Québécois (PQ) have gone all-in on trying to out-Legault Legault, which probably won’t play well in southwest Montreal and that Green voters might switch to QS if it’s competitive.
But, of course, it may come down to who’s running, so let’s look at that:
- Dominique Anglade (Liberal) Incumbent and Party Leader
- Guillaume Cliche-Rivard (Québec solidaire)
- Julie Daubois (Parti Québécois)
- Jean-Pierre Duford (Green)
- Nicolas Huard-Isabelle (Coalition Avenir Québec)
- Janusz Kaczorowski (Bloc Montreal)
- Mischa White (Conservative)
There are two star candidates running this year in Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne: the PLQ have their leader and QS have Guillaume Cliche-Rivard. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s had his name in the press quite a bit.
Cliche-Rivard is an immigration lawyer who helped bring Edward Snowden’s “guardian angels” to Canada and got Mamadi Camara (the man falsely accused of attacking a Montreal police officer) his permanent residency. He’s also a prominent critic of Legault’s immigration policy and the Liberals’ lack of effective opposition to it.
While I’ve seen some media try and portray this as a three-way race between the Libs, QS and the CAQ, I think that may be, perhaps subconsciously, an attempt to foster fear of a CAQ victory to help the PLQ. Nicolas Huard-Isabelle seems like a glorified poteau (paper) candidate and given Legault’s anti-Montreal rhetoric, I doubt they are actually trying to win Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne.
QS, on the other hand, already knocked out PQ Leader Jean-François Lisée in Rosemont last election and are clearly trying to do the same with the Liberal Leader this time around. QS Co-Spokesperson and Premier Candidate Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called the riding “winnable” and their choice of candidate echoes that belief.
It may be a two-way race, but it’s still a race. Major parties generally pull out all the stops to protect their leader’s riding in order to allow the leader to focus on campaigning everywhere else. Also, the perks for voters generally associated with having a potential Premier as their MNA can usually sway the vote in the leader’s favour.
Of course, when a party feels like they might electorally implode, the leader’s riding might be sacrificed in favour of putting resources in places where they have a better chance of winning, to circle the wagons, so to speal, and to ensure that it isn’t a complete wipeout. Also, if it looks like there’s no chance of the local candidate becoming Premier, that electoral advantage in the minds of some voters evaporates.
Now, I don’t think the Liberals will completely implode like the PQ did last election, but the chances of Anglade becoming Premier are, well, not good to put it kindly. I’d even say her chances of remaining Leader of the Opposition are up in the air.
Her “let’s remove some parts of Bills 21 and 96 to make them less harsh but keep the general framework intact” (not a direct quote) approach may seem like a good way to win some of Legault’s bigoted base back and flip some rural ridings while keeping the Liberals’ Montreal base on board. It won’t work.
No one votes for Legault-lite. Those who support Bill 21 don’t want a watered-down version when they can have the real deal. QS, on the other hand, voiced their opposition to the law when it was enacted without equivocation.
And back in her own riding, Anglade has sent a message that she will compromise with bigotry to maybe get some votes elsewhere rather than stand up for what those who elected her want.
So, yes, Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne, for the first time ever, is a riding to watch.
Featured Image by Jason C. McLean