Happy Jack in Westmount


Jack Layton being Jack Layton, though not in Westmount.

The other night I was in a Westmount adjacent establishment for a drink-poo, and I barely had to strain my neck to see that sizable bits of the NDP brain trust, Jack Layton and noted Outremont socialist Thomas Mulcair, were seated at the table behind me. NDP Westmount-St. Louis Ville-Marie (thx Joffré) candidate Anne Lagacé Dowson joined them later. As usual, Jack was dressed as though he’d robbed Mountain Equipment Coop earlier that afternoon and, as usual, ‘Prozac’ Jack was happy as can be (go here for Aaron Wherry’s take on just why that may be.) The whole thing wrapped up with Jack telling Lagacé Dowson to stay the course – that is to say, continue the veritable orgy of door-to-door glad-handing to which Lagacé Dowson has submitted herself. The woman, I’m told, has been a machine, and it shows: she has outdone both her lawyer and astronaut opponents in terms of face time and media coverage. She has done better than expected against her main rival, the aforementioned astronaut Marc Garneau. Meanwhile, her adopted party is, if not exactly flush, then at least firing on all windmills.

And to think, it might all be for naught.

It is doubtful this by-election, or the the one in Longueuil or Guelph, Ontario, will even take place. In all likelihood Harper will drop the writ beforehand, and those seats will be in the offing in a general election. On the face of things, this might not seem to be a big deal for Jack Layton et al., since the NDP’s position as the real alternative to the Conservatives will play just as well during a by-election than during the real thing, right?

Not so much. By-elections are ephemeral things that are usually won or lost less by the party than by the candidates themselves. They allow voters to indulge in flights of fancy with the knowledge that a mistake can be expunged during the next general election. Look at Mulcair’s by-election win in Outremont last year: Incredibly popular here in Quebec, Mulcair benefitted from acres of good ink after his very public falling out with Jean Charest. His Liberal opponent, meanwhile, was a little-known bookish intellectual who had about as much presence as, well, a little-known bookish intellectual. Add to this a soupçon of organizational jackassery by the Liberals and voila!, an NDP foothold in the Pretty Province. As someone who genuinely amires what Mulcair has accomplished, though, I worry about what will happen when he has to go up a star Liberal candidate in the next election.

All is to say that a real election, as opposed to a by-election, doesn’t bode well for the NDP in Westmount-Ville-Marie. Westmounters are a famously Liberal but conservative bunch; about the most revolutionary thing they’ve done in the last 20 years is eating their cucumber sandwiches with the crusts intact. And while the riding is far bigger (and infinitely more diverse) than just Westmount, there is a reason it was represented by a Liberal for upwards of half a century. In Westmount-St. Louis, voting for Lagacé-Dowson in a by-election would be a proper enough deviation to the rule; like it or not, though, the Liberals will long be the go-to protest party against Stephen Harper’s Conservatives – whose support wobbles at around 20 percent on the island.

At least she can go back to her day job.


Happy Jack in Westmount

  1. Well finally credit given where credit is do. Martin first of all its westmount ville-marie and I have had the pleasure of receiving Anne at my door and calls from her team as well, not one yet from either the libs or the cons! I have seen Dryden the other day shaking hands but no Garneau so if this is a star candidate perhaps hes supernovaed and is now a black hole? Anyways great work to the NDP I can only hope that the you and your fantastic blog (I sincerely mean this no sarcasm) continue to state the realities of our Belle Province and at least Jack is out there, Harper is currently too afraid to and as far as Stephane is concerned he is busily sending out a young Trudeau in his place who ironically Stephane didnt want in the first place! Perhaps one day you will have the pleasure of catching and talking to Celine Hervieux Payette as I hear and see on LCN shes running full speed in the opposite direction.

  2. Is Jack taking photos of himself for any particular reason?

  3. Yeah, he’s checking to see if he has any spinache stuck in his teeth before door knocking – he forgot his mirror.

  4. Maybe Jack is taking a picture of himself in front of a windmill?

    Great line there Martin: “firing on all windmills.”

  5. As Layton says the goal is to win seats. For Harper that means attacking Dion. For Dion that means attacking Harper. For Layton that means attacking Dion.

    When the Liberals are not the government, this is a problem for Layton, and he has to attack Harper at least enough to stay credible. For some of us, it just wasn’t convincing enough. His heart just doesn’t seem to be in undercutting Harper, no doubt worried as he is that Dion might benefit from it. Too bad, because, for many of us, Harper seems like the perfect target to undercut. Some of us even think, if you really care about Canada, you have to undercut Harper.

  6. Small error: Westmount-St. Louis is the provincial riding. The current byelection is in Westmount-Ville Marie.

  7. Very interesting BLOG. Makes me wonder where you got your information on Westmount-St-Louis (oups). Toronto, Ottawa or Outremont ?

    I have been living in Westmount-VILLE-MARIE for nearly 15 years. Never have I seen such an active Liberal campaign at the federal or provincial level. An article earlier this month in a local paper (The Suburban) has highlighted this fact.

    It is strange that the Gazette and La Presse have noted the following a few days ago :

    1) The Liberal candidate has been much more active and present in the riding over the last ten months than all other candidates combined;
    2) In this by-election campaign, the Liberal candidate has visited and met with over a 100 community organizations and leaders;
    3) On the streets, the Liberal candidate is received with warmth and enthusiasm while the NDPer is greeted with indifference.

    Personally, I have noted that the only candidate that has provided material to all local papers (I receive 7 to my door) has been Marc Garneau. I have yet seen one single paper add for the NDP or Bloc and a few from the PC.

    Finally, please get your facts straight. It is dangerous and erroneous to depend simply on the NDP spin; especially when it comes from someone angry like Thomas Mulcair.

  8. Speaking of Thomas Mulcair and his power of disinformation.

    I have been living in Westmount for a few months now. I moved here from Outremont. Last year, I voted for Mulcair in the local by-election

    A few days ago, at the corner of Claremont and Sherbrooke, Mulcair greeted me by telling me from the start that it was time to vote NDP because the Liberals were taking voters here for granted. He went on rampage with the following lies :

    a) The Liberal candidate has not been campaigning in this by-election.
    b) The Liberal candidate has been lying about the fact that he lives in the riding while underlying the fact that Anne Lagacé-Dowson lives in Outremont.
    c) The Liberals are so lazy that they do not have a campaign office.

    I was astonished by his lies. I confronted him with the facts reported in The Gazette that :

    a) Garneau has been meeting people and campaigning for more than 10 months. Lies he said !
    b) Even when I told him that I knew for a fact that Marc Garneau lives in the riding and that he has a campaign office on Green Avenue, he argued furiously with me. A real turn off !

    Why does Mulcair lie in this manner about Marc Garneau ? What is there to gain ? Why do some reporters believe him ?

    His answer : “This is the way politics is done !”

    Until my meeting with Mulcair, I was undecided. After hearing his monstrous affirmations, I will vote Garneau. People like Mulcair (what ever party or media they represent) bring a bad rep to all politicians and the democratic process.

  9. Frank, that is a pretty disturbing report. Mulcair gives me the creeps as he almost seems like a lefty version of Harper.

    The NDP does not get the scrutiny of the two large parties, so some of its dirty tricks don’t get aired.

  10. Frank,

    Why bother voting for GArneau when you can vote for the CPC candidate?

    I have met Garneau and came away convinced that he is an excellent spokesperson for the party of entitlement.

  11. Quite amusing. I like this kind of surreal way people in Westmount, NDG and Western Montreal pretend to go along with every election even though the new MP has already been chosen by THE Party. Back in the USSR…

  12. The Liberals gave the Conservatives a defacto majority by refusing to vote on the 43 occasions they had to bring this gov’t down over the last three years. Westmounters know this and understand the only alternative is the NDP. Anne Lagace Dowson is change.

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