NDP surge in Quebec could put students into office

10 university students standing as NDP candidates in Quebec

When Thomas Mulcair became the second NDP candidate ever to be elected in Quebec, it had far more to do with his personal popularity than with his party’s.

Mulciar had been the environment minister in Jean Charest’s cabinet and publicly disagreed with the premier on a plan to sell part of a provincial park. When he was demoted, he resigned. Standing up for his convictions may have hurt Mulcair’s career in Quebec City but it certainly didn’t hurt him at the federal ballot box.

Coming into this election, the NDP had its eyes on gaining a couple more seats in Quebec, but had no serious hopes of a massive breakthrough. As a result, in many ridings, the NDP has been willing to stand anyone with a pulse who wants to run. They’re placeholder candidates, whose only purpose is to ensure that the party’s name is on every ballot in the country.

But, with polls showing surprisingly strong for the NDP in Quebec, it caused a stir when one of the candidates took off for Vegas and when the party was unable to tell reporters if another candidate was still planning to take a vacation of her own. There have also been concerns that many of the candidates don’t live in their ridings and haven’t been campaigning.

Interestingly, 10 of the NDP candidates in Quebec are university students and two of them have a pretty good chance of being elected.

Some seat projections are putting Isabelle Morin, a student at Bishop’s University, in the lead in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Lachine. The western Montreal riding, which includes urban and suburban areas, has been considered a safe Liberal seat. Current MP Marlene Jennings has never received less than 40 per cent of the vote since she was elected in 1997.

The same seat projections are also suggesting that Elaine Michaud, a masters student at Quebec’s École nationale d’administration publique, could win in the riding of Portneuf–Jacques-Cartier. The suburban riding, which surrounds much of Quebec City, is currently held by André Arthur, an independent who usually votes with the Conservatives.

While I’m not sure how much I trust riding-by-riding seat projections, it doesn’t look like some of the student candidates have much of a chance.

Some of them, like Charmaine Borg, who is standing in the riding of Terrebonne-Blainville, don’t seem to be campaigning at all. A local newspaper in the riding couldn’t even get in contact with her. Borg is the co-president of the NDP club at McGill. The other co-president, Matthew Dubé, is standing in the riding of Chambly-Borduas, just east of Montreal.

Others, like Pierre-Luc Dusseault, look like they’re actually trying to get elected. Dusseault, who is standing in the riding of Sherbrooke, is an  applied politics student at Université de Sherbrooke.

Laurin Liu, standing in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, north-west of Montreal, has some electoral experience, she was recently elected as one of the undergraduate representatives on the board of McGill’s campus radio station, CKUT.

If some of these students do get elected, it won’t be the first time Quebec has put a student in to the House of Commons. The youngest MP elected in 2008 was the Bloc Québécois’ Nicolas Dufour, who was 21 at the time. The youngest MP ever was also elected in Quebec; Claude-André Lachance, a Liberal, was 20 when he was elected in Montreal. Luachance got his law degree while he was a sitting MP.

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