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Quebec City’s Jean-Talon riding gears up for tight byelection race

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Quebec City’s Jean-Talon riding gears up for tight byelection race
WATCH ABOVE: Voters in Quebec City's Jean-Talon riding will be heading to the polls on Monday, and it's shaping up to be a tight race. The latest polls have the Parti-Québécois in a slight lead, but the CAQ's candidate isn't far behind, and the two have been neck-and-neck through much of the campaign. Franca Mignacca reports – Oct 1, 2023

Voters in Quebec City’s Jean-Talon riding will be heading to the polls Oct. 2, and it’s shaping up to be a tight race.

The riding, which covers the neighborhoods of Sainte-Foy and Sillery, was a Liberal stronghold for years until the CAQ’s Joëlle Boutin snagged the seat in a byelection in 2019. Boutin stepped down over the summer and candidates with the province’s five main political parties are vying to take her place.

The latest polls have the Parti-Québecois’ Pascal Paradis in a slight lead, but CAQ candidate Marie-Anik Shoiry isn’t far behind, and the two have been virtually neck and neck through much of the campaign.

The Third Link highway tunnel project was one of the CAQ’s biggest campaign promises for the Quebec City area last year, and there are questions as to whether the government’s decision to backtrack on it and transform the project to exclusively include public transit, could have an impact on the results.

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But the CAQ’s Shoiry says she doesn’t feel people on the ground have lost trust in the government. The former lawyer and founder of local non-profit Vide ta sacoche has gone door-to-door in the area these past few weeks, accompanied by CAQ MNAs and ministers, as well as Premier François Legault himself.

“There’s a lot of issues that are very important for me, such as road safety, such as the cost of living,” said Shoiry. “I think that most people — they trust the government.”

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Shoiry was born and raised in the riding and continues to raise her children there. She says she’s based much of her career on helping others.

The PQ’s Paradis shares a similar motive. The former co-founder of Lawyers Without Borders Canada says his top priorities for the campaign include solutions for the rising cost of living, and finding better ways to welcome newcomers to the riding.

Paradis had previously been courted as a potential candidate for the CAQ, and made claims early on that the party planned to scrap its Third Link project, even as it continued to use it as a campaign promise.

The CAQ has denied Paradis’ claims, but the candidate maintains residents are tired of “broken promises”.

“What we hear from the people from Jean-Talon, from Sainte-Foy and Sillery, is that they’re really coming to our ideas,” said Paradis. “They want to send a signal to the government so message number one is the CAQ is not unbeatable.”

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Candidates with the other parties insist the byelection is not a two-way race. Québec solidaire’s Olivier Bolduc is running for a third time. He came second in Jean-Talon last fall, and feels recent polls are not necessarily indicative of what he’s hearing when he goes door-to-door.

“I’m just doing the work on the ground and I think we have a good chance at this thing,” said Bolduc.

To him, the housing crisis is the main priority for this campaign. He says more needs to be done to put an end to rent hikes and build more social and affordable housing.

Meanwhile, Quebec Liberal Candidate Élise Avard Bernier, says people trust her because of her work in the community — as well as that of her party.

“The Liberal party in Jean-Talon has always delivered on its mandates. We have a strong history here,” said Avard Bernier. “I’m standing here at the Promenade Samuel de Champlain which was a Liberal project. You can think of PEPS, you can think of the Complexe Les 3 Glaces, of the Centre Mère-Enfant — those are all Liberal party efforts.”

Bernier’s top priority is also the rising cost of living. That’s why she’s sharing in her party’s proposal of abolishing the provincial sales tax from essential items.

The Quebec Conservative Party’s Jesse Robitaille says he’s also making gains. The 24-year-old hopes to capture the youth vote in the Quebec City riding.

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“The Conservative Party of Quebec is the only party that opposes the tramway rail project and supports the Third Link and I think people are disappointed with the broken promises of the CAQ,” said Robitaille.  “I’m optimistic. I think we’re going to do a very good job and we already have done a really good job.”

Polling stations in the riding will open at 9:30 on Monday morning and close at 8 p.m.

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