Vachon (Quebec) by-election 2010
A provincial by-election in the Quebec provincial constituency of Vachon was held on Monday, July 5. This by-election came as a result of the sudden resignation in December 2009 of incumbent MNA Camil Bouchard of the PQ. The Prime Minister, Jean Charest, scheduled the by-election for July 5, a controversial time for a by-election right at the start of summer and a few days after Quebec’s major moving day on July 1 or the Quebec national day on June 24.
Vachon is located in Montreal’s South Shore and includes part of Longueuil and the former municipality of Saint-Hubert. Vachon is largely a middle-class Francophone area, including some more deprived areas in Saint-Hubert, though the city of Saint-Hubert as become more French suburban in recent years, losing historically English working-class areas. The YES won the constituency in 1995 with 56.8% of the votes. The constituency of Vachon, created in 1980, has been held by the PQ since 1994 after the Liberals held it between 1985 and 1994. David Payne, the PQ’s sole Anglophone MNA, held the seat between 1981 and 1985 and again between 1994 and 2003, when he retired in favour of Camil Bouchard. In 2003, Bouchard won 40.45% against 39.77% for the Liberals, the Liberals having performed very strongly in Montreal’s South Shore as a result of 2002 municipal amalgamations which proved unpopular in cities such as Longueuil. In 2007, Bouchard again narrowly held on with only 34.88% against 34.20% for the ADQ (with the Liberals falling to third with 24.69%), though surviving a swing to the ADQ in traditionally Péquiste suburban ridings in Montérégie. In 2008, he won his first comfortable victory with 48.64% against 32.28% for the Liberals, the ADQ collapsing to only 13.67% of the vote.
The PQ nominated Martine Ouellet, the Liberals nominated former ADQ MNA (for Marguerite-d’Youville, between 2007 and 2008) Simon-Pierre Diamond while his former party nominated Saint-Lambert municipal councillor Alain Dépatie. QS nominated Sébastien Robert, defeated in 2008 running in Marie-Victorin while the Greens nominated Yvon Rudolphe who had already run in Vachon, but back in 1989 (when the Green Party in Quebec was hard-core nationalist). His nomination prompted the Greens’ 2007 and 2008 candidate Denis Durand to run, while perennial candidate Régent Millette (who had already lost 14 elections and by-elections since 1966) also pleased us with a run. Here are the results:
Martine Ouellet (PQ) 59.15% (+10.51%)
Simon-Pierre Diamond (Liberal) 24.34% (-7.94%)
Alain Dépatie (ADQ) 6.61% (-7.06%)
Sébastien Robert (QS) 5.47% (+3.23%)
Yvon Rudolphe (Green) 3.15% (-0.01%)
Denis Durand (Ind Green) 0.74%
Régent Millette (Ind) 0.53%
Turnout was a paltry 29%. The PQ still performed extremely strongly, polling it’s highest share of the vote since the seat’s creation, the previous record being in 1981 – a PQ victory province-wide – when Payne won 57.85%. This result is very strong, even larger than what most had predicted. It highlights the unpopularity of the Charest government, still in the midst of major corruption allegations involving his party and the Quebec construction industry mafia. His approval rating is roughly 20% and trails the PQ badly in polls, though voters are not for that matter wildly in love with the PQ. The general mood remains anti-incumbent, and generally lukewarm (at best) towards Liberals and PQ, though the ADQ, which is dwindling in size and lacks any appeal, fails to benefit, though QS’ strong result, in line with strong polling (6-8%) does likely reflect a bit of this mood.