There were no clear winners in Sunday night’s Quebec election campaign debate, and polls show the Parti Québécois has a slight lead. So it looks as if it’s going to be a close election, which could mean some rare upsets in western Quebec.
“I can say for the county of Pontiac, which I'm running in, I think we stand a very good chance,” said André Laframboise, who is a candidate for the new party, Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ).
For decades, the Outaouais has been solid Liberal territory. But that monopoly may be in jeopardy, especially with the rise of the CAQ, and a fourth party, Québec Solidaire.
"This time we know that there is a very tight battle, a very tight fight in Papineau and in Hull," said Benoît Pelletier, a former Liberal cabinet minister.
"There's a kind of fatigue about the Liberal Party of Quebec. So some people seem to think that the Liberals have taken the Outaouais for granted,” Pelletier said.
The current crop of Liberal candidates here are quick to dismiss the new parties. They prefer to paint this campaign as a two-party race, with a very clear choice.
“Here in the Outaouais, people are really talking about the Party Liberal du Québec and the Parti Québécois. They're not sovereigntist. They don't want to separate Quebec from Canada,” said MNA Maryse Gaudreault, the Liberal candidate for Hull.
“I think the PQ will win a few votes, but I don't think they're [going to] take any seats,” said Jean-Claude Cyr, a Gatineau voter.
“I don't know. The Outaouais region is a government region. It's based on Liberals, so I think we're going to go through with Liberals,” said Manon Sauvé, who will also be voting.