Three federal by-elections are set for February 25, as called for by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this year following several vacancies in parliament.
Tom Mulcair, former NDP leader and MP for the riding of Outremont, retired on August 3, 2018, leaving the riding without representation.
The riding was almost exclusively Liberal until Mulcair’s victory in 2007; Outremont has belonged to the NDP since.
On January 20, Julia Sánchez kicked off her campaign as the NDP candidate at her offices on Park and Bernard. Despite the snowstorm, the room was filled with supporters.
Before running as the NDP’s candidate in Outremont, Sánchez worked in international development for 25 years. She is also a McGill alumnus.
In her address to supporters, Sánchez discussed how she has been “fighting for human rights, the rights of Indigenous peoples, and of women,” and feels that this campaign is a “natural progression” of her work. Sánchez said that she sees “a lot of broken promises” from the Liberal government. Sánchez is sympathetic to what she sees as Canadian’s “disillusionment” with current the Trudeau government and is motivated to be a part of changing that: “we need to push the government to do more, and do better.”
In her speech, Sánchez affirmed her commitment to representing the riding, recognizing the people of Outremont’s “own fights, their own battles,” and committing to them herself.
Combating climate change is a key issue for Sánchez. She shares her constituents
concerns that the “government is not doing enough to get on top of this huge issue.” She said that “people are worried for the future, for a future for their children.”
Wanting to move away from the discourse that the NDP is “negative” and “unhappy” with the status quo, Sánchez said that “we are angry, [but] we are also acting. We are taking action, finding solutions. We believe that there is a better future possible, we want to contribute to that, and we have hope. That’s what motivates me.”
MPs Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont–Petite-Patrie) and Hélène Laverdière (Laurier–Sainte-Marie) also spoke, affirming their support of Sánchez and discussing their optimism for the race ahead.
Other candidates running in Outremont are Rachel Bendayan for the Liberals, Jasmine Louras for the Conservatives, and Daniel Green of the Green Party. The People’s Party of Canada, the Bloc-Quebecois, and the Libertarian Party have also expressed intentions to run in the by-election, but no candidates have been named.
Coming so close to the federal election in October, this by-election race is crucial for both the Liberals and the New Democrats, as the parties struggle to gain ground and seats ahead of this fall. Any gains for the Liberals in Quebec this fall could offset losses accepted elsewhere in the country and could help sustain a majority for Trudeau.
Predictions like these, as well as rumours that a concentration of efforts into NDP leader’s riding Burnaby South will leave other ridings such as Outremont underprepared and undefended, do not faze Sánchez. Addressing this dispute, Sánchez pushed back against the notion that this race will be a “shoo-in for the Liberals.” While admitting that “it’s going to be difficult, we’re not taking anything for granted,” but stated that she’s “never shied away from challenges.”
*more coverage on the Outremont by-election to come.