Campaigns for the fast approaching February 25 by-election in Outremont are in full swing. Rachel Bendayan, the Liberal Party’s candidate, is running for her second time. In 2015, she lost to former NDP party leader Tom Mulcair. Though Bendayan did not win her seat in the 2015 election, the party made big gains in the province, securing 40 seats compared to 7 seats in 2011.
Recent nationwide public opinion polling still has the Liberals leading, with 36.7 per cent support, though approval is higher in the East, especially in Quebec and in Atlantic provinces. The concentration of support in the East makes securing seats here of great importance for the Liberals ahead of this year’s federal election in October.
Bendayan kicked off her campaign at her offices on Bernard on January 15. She and her team have been knocking on doors across Outremont and making phone calls nearly every day since. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned with Bendayan and her team last Monday evening. While answering questions outside houses in Côtes-De-Neiges, the Prime Minister expressed his support for the candidate, and his hopes for her success in the by-election. Bendayan then noted the importance of the Canada Child Benefit program in the riding, as well as her plan to continue supporting the middle class in Outremont.
In an interview with the Daily, Bendayan spoke briefly about her campaign and plans for the riding. A McGill alumnus herself, Bendayan says she’s been excited to see a growing connection between young people and the Liberal party since her initial run in 2015, as well as growing student interest in, and involvement with, politics. Bendayan expressed her confidence in the relationships that she has cultivated with the people of Outremont. Because of her past campaign, Bendayan believes citizens will recognize her when it comes to election day. Furthermore, she believes that they have been supportive of the party’s performance since Trudeau’s election in 2015.
Bendayan also commented on civilian insecurities about the lack of affordable housing in Montreal. She proposed the Liberal Party’s National Housing Plan as a solution. During the 2015 campaign, Trudeau pledged $20 billion to “social infrastructure,” including affordable housing. Despite the fact that the National Housing Plan was officially announced in 2017, it is only set to receive serious government funding after the 2019 federal election. Bendayan relayed her belief that the “world needs more Canada,” as well as her pride in the current government’s efforts to combat climate change. Canada, however, remains the tenth largest producer of CO2 in the world and the Liberal government supports the construction of pipelines, including Coastal GasLink and TransCanada.
A native of the riding, Bendayan emphasized the personal nature of her campaign and what was of utmost importance to her: representing her community, and defending her neighbours’ interests in Ottawa.