Battlegrounds abound in ripe Quebec electoral map as campaigns heat up

Halfway through the federal election campaign and the day after the French-language debate, Quebec is still up for grabs.

Parties are wrangling to shore up support, and how the province votes could be the difference between a Liberal or a Conservative government.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau paid a early visit to Trois-Rivières, as did Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau walks near St-Laurent boulevard during the Canadian federal election campaign in Montreal, Que., on Thursday, September 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette 

Bloc Quebecois incumbent Louise Charbonneau is not seeking reelection, making it a battleground seat.

The riding went NDP back-to-back in 2011 and 2015.

It's one of many battleground seats in la Belle Province.

"Everything outside [Montreal], everything in the countryside where the Bloc holds sway right now is going to start shaking loose," said political analyst Thomas Mulcair.

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole and his wife Rebecca greet supporters at a campaign event in Montreal on Friday September 3, 2021. Canadians will vote in a federal election Sept. 20th. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn 

Blanchet is running on nationalist issues like secularism and protection of the French language, as he did in 2019. Hitching his cart to the nationalist agenda did well two years ago, but this year, polls are showing that it's been less successful so far.

"There are a lot of people who were used to voting Bloc who are voting Conservative this time and, in fact, people who were used to voting Liberal are voting Conservative this time," said Mulcair. "It's part to do with the way the Liberals have handled things and they're young, and they just can't actually get anything done. And so, the Bloc is good at blocking but it's not very good at accomplishing."

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet laughs as he steps off his campaign bus to attend a Laval University Rouge et Or football game against McGill Red Birds, Sunday, August 29, 2021 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES / Jacques Boissinot 

With the Bloc's waning support, other leaders are targeting ridings where they might have a chance at making gains at the sovereigntist party's expense.

Singh was in Berthier-Maskinonge backing former MP Ruth Ellen Brousseau, who lost her seat to Bloc incumbent Yves Perron in 2019, while the Liberals hope they can steal the Longueuil-Saint-Hubert riding from the Bloc after losing by under 3,000 votes in 2019. 

New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to a baby during a campaign stop on Thursday, September 2, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld 

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