Quebec saw more of the same with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau winning his seat and parts of Montreal remaining red strongholds in a historic federal election marred by the COVID-19 health crisis.
The province was the source of tight races in some of its 78 ridings, but the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois under Yves-François Blanchet were leading in seat projections shortly after midnight.
“It’s a battle between the Liberals and the Bloc, like it was last time in 2019,” said Daniel Béland, a political science professor at McGill University, told Global News shortly before polls closed.
“The Bloc re-emerged to the front stage after seven or eight years. It was a difficult, difficult time for the Bloc.”
In Montreal, the bastions of Liberal support have not changed hands. Star candidates and cabinet ministers Mélanie Joly, François-Philippe Champagne, David Lametti and Marc Garneau are among projected winners.
As of Tuesday morning, the Bloc Québécois appeared to have secured the same amount of seats as it did in 2019, when the sovereignist party soared to prominence by tripling their representation with 32 MPs. In a close race on Montreal’s south shore, Bloc candidate Patrick O’Hara was the projected winner of the Châteauguay—Lacolle riding after narrowly beating Liberal incumbent Brenda Shanahan.
Standing on a stage before supporters, Blanchet told them he would continue to fight for the best interests of Quebec in the House of Commons. He promised that his party will push for extra health-care funding for provinces, improvements in long-term care and increased benefits for seniors.
But the leader took aim at the snap election call, which Trudeau was roundly criticized for during the 36-day campaign.
“We almost feel like saying ‘All of that for this?'” Blanchet quipped.
Blanchet also said he will be contacting other party leaders in the next few days to make sure Parliament is functional in the midst of a pandemic.
The Conservative Party, meanwhile, took hold in 10 ridings. Most of the projected wins were among incumbents — including Alain Rayes in Richmond-Arthabaska, who was elected for a third time.
The NDP didn’t see any gains. Alexandre Boulerice, the lone New Democrat MP in the province, was re-elected in his Montreal riding.
After a close race, the Bloc emerged victorious for the second election in a row in Berthier—Maskinongé, where NDP candidate and former MP Ellen Ruth Brosseau sought a comeback.
Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, lost his bid to win his old riding of Beauce for a second time, according to projections.
The early results are similar, so far, to those of the federal election two years ago. Prior to dissolving parliament, the Liberals held 35 seats in the province while the Conservative Party had 10. There were 32 MPs with the Bloc Québécois while the NDP had one.
—with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez, Annabelle Olivier and The Canadian Press