Martin C. Barry
Something old, something new. Something borrowed, something … blue?
At incumbent Marc-Aurèle-Fortin Liberal Yves Robillard’s campaign headquarters last week, that colour was furthest from the minds of his supporters and volunteers in a riding that has voted NDP and Bloc Québécois in the past 15 years – but never Conservative.
An emerging theme
However, before the starting shot for the 2019 federal election campaign is fired, old, new and borrowed could well become part of a Liberal campaign theme leading towards an anticipated Oct. 21 voting date. That at least is what seemed to emerge during a gathering for the opening of Robillard’s election headquarters.
As of last Thursday, Robillard and his campaign team were still waiting for the election call to be made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Elections Canada has recommended the Oct. 21 date, although the final decision is the prerogative of the Prime Minister.
Old posters recycled
In the meantime, Robillard, who is seeking his second term after first being elected in 2015, was using old printed campaign materials left over from his first run four years ago.
These included a large poster of the Liberal Party leader taped prominently into the Robillard headquarters front window – with one important difference: the number 5 in “Trudeau 2015” was conspicuously cut out. After all, this is presumably an entirely new ball game.
According to Robillard, campaign spending rules forbid advertising for the current election before the electoral period has been officially declared open. However, he added, a loophole allows old posters and other materials left over from previous campaigns to be employed.
And what’s new?
In terms of the new, a sneak peek of some of the 2019 Liberal campaign material was to be seen inside the Robillard campaign HQ. On a wall, for instance, Liberal Party items promoting “Team Trudeau,” and campaign year 2019 – with the number zero formed into a distinctive profile of Justin Trudeau’s head – were also on display.
Regarding the old, Robillard suggested during an interview with The Laval News that the Liberals may be rehashing the central campaign theme they used in 2015: giving a break to the middle-class.
“I think the main issue for us is certainly the middle-class,” he said, noting the efforts the Liberal government made in the past four years to ease the financial burden of young families, senior citizens and others in need through tax breaks and subsidies.
Like many other Liberal candidates, Robillard is also emphasizing that the Liberals created an estimated one million jobs since 2015, while managing to keep the economy running satisfactorily.
Riding’s Québécois roots
As Robillard pointed out during the interview, the demographics of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin are somewhat different from other ridings in western Laval. While a riding such as Laval-Les Îles is now predominantly multicultural, he noted that the electorate in Marc-Aurèle-Fortin is still made up of around 78 per cent French-speaking people with Québécois roots.
“Yes, we have a number of communities here, such as the Lebanese, Greek and others,” he said. “But it’s not the same as in other nearby ridings. In the others there are many more people of different nationalities, like Greeks, Lebanese and Italians. But in this riding there are more who have Québécois roots, although many are bilingual.”