Candidates will enter their final week of campaigning ahead of the by-election on February 25. Polling indicates a Liberal victory in the riding of Outremont. As of February 15, Liberal candidate Rachel Bendayan is polling at 42.6 per cent, while NDP Candidate Julia Sánchez is polling at 18.5 per cent. Historically, by-elections can be opportunities to test the waters for elections to come. Despite the possible predictive nature of this race, by-elections themselves are rarely significant, due to low voter turnouts and lack of widespread impact, as they only affect one riding of voters at a time. As a result, not much information is available about candidates and their platforms or promises; candidates tend not to run on competitive or ground-breaking policies, instead sticking to party lines.
The Daily’s coverage of the by-election has focused on the Liberal and NDP parties due to Outremont’s history as a Liberal riding, and it’s recent decade of NDP representation. In addition, parties such as the Conservatives, People’s Party, and the Bloc Québécois have either not pursued substantial campaigns, or have only named candidates late in the race.
Both candidates have mentioned a few standing points for citizens of Outremont. Rachel Bendayan is a self-described protector of the local community, and intends to include Outremont in the Liberal party’s federal policies. Bendayan plans to continue to lower tax cuts for small businesses, in line with the Liberal Party’s nine per cent cuts. She also aims to continue current Building Canada projects in Montreal, including building up the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM), expanding Université de Montréal campus, and refurbishing the St-Joseph Oratory. Bendayan has also praised the Canada Child benefit program, claiming it provides over 17,000 children in the riding with funding.
Sánchez has been less specific on local issues, but has mentioned her intentions to improve health insurance for the self-employed, and to fight for the rights of workers.
Concerning housing issues in Montreal, Bendayan has promised to include Outremont in the Liberal Party’s National Housing Strategy, and to provide 100,000 affordable housing units. Sánchez has also mentioned intentions to facilitate better access to affordable housing for renters: she plans to institute 500,000 affordable and quality housing units over the next 10 years, and remove the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new and affordable rental units.
Environmental issues top Sánchez’s platform, and she has recently unveiled a comprehensive plan in direct response to the current Liberal government’s policies, and Bendayan’s limited comments on these issues. Sánchez’s plan, called the “Grand Transition,” operates off four main points.
- Divest from gas and oil industries: stop fossil energy subsidies and public investment in oil and gas projects
- Create policy for GreenHouse Gas reduction targets of 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030
- Increase support to international climate action initiatives to $4 billion
- Establish a decarbonized economy via investment into: renewable energy (Municipal Green Fund; Solon Organization in Rosemont-La Petite Patrie), public transport, energy efficient construction (improve Réno-Climat program; Réno-Vert tax credit), committing to a real strategy in plastic waste reduction (adhering to the Gord Jones motion passed in the House of Commons), and implementing green jobs.
Though the plan was originally posited as a challenge to the Liberal candidate, Bendayan has not commented. Regarding environmental policy, the Liberal candidate stands behind the federal Carbon Tax plan, and expresses pride in Canada being one of few countries with nation-wide carbon pricing.
Though there hasn’t been much upset over platforms, both candidates have been victims of vandalism on either their offices or signage in the district. Anti-pipeline and anti-Liberal messages were posted on top of Rachel Bendayan’s campaign poster outside of the Saint-Enfant-Jésus Church. The poster was removed within an hour of its appearance. Alternatively, Sánchez’s office was the subject of graffiti, also anti-pipeline, but Sánchez opted to let the message remain on her windows.
Leading up to the election, both candidates have been participating in community engagements. They have not appeared together in any formal debates, and have pursued different avenues of outreach. While Sánchez has participated in a town hall, a debate, and several livestreamed discussions, Bendayan has focused on meeting with local businesses and community organizers to voice support.