Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Some Times the Nice Guy Wins Instead of Finishing Last

There are days that are a long time coming, and yesterday was one. For more than 20 years I’ve been sure that the NDP could win Outremont with the right candidate: the party always gets one of its best scores in Quebec even when they put no effort into a campaign, and in 1988 when the NDP’s Louise O’Neill and the Liberal Lucie Pépin split the center left/left vote, the NDP (unfortunately) caused enough damage for a Conservative to win.

This time Thomas Mulcair, a man of great integrity and considerble charm, ran away with the by election in Outremont for the NDP. His victory is the result of a lot of work in the field and a tribute to the good sense of voters who—whatever strategic thoughts they may have had—seemed to appreciate Mulcair’s plain-spoken integrity and the tough stands he took in the past while a cabinet minister in the Quebec provincial government of Jean Charest, from which he was excluded finally.

I was a poll captain in a polling place not far from where I live, and it was clear from before the polls opened that the NDP was much better organized than any other party. The day passed without incident—nobody showed up in veil or Halloween mask—and turn out seemed more or less normal for a by election. For the count, I sat in my own poll which is an eclectic mix of bon chic bon gens Québécois, Francophone/something else couples and Hassidic Jews. I know almost everyone, if only to say hello, because I’ve lived here so long, and, although we had some good numbers from our telephone and door-to-door canvasses, I had no idea how it was going to come out in the wash. In the end Mulcair got 60 votes, the Liberal Jocelyn Coulon 34, with the Bloc Québécois and Conservative candidates far behind with about 15 a piece, not far from the riding-wide vote, which gave Mulcair about 48 per cent.

Absolutely amazing!

Of course, it was a by election, and people of all political stripes wanted to send various messages too. In a general election the playing field will be considerably different. But I was so pleased to see that it worked.

And, by the way, I even got some of Henry James's Washington Square read. I’ll talk about that later, perhaps, when I’m back to work on my Haussmann-Jane Jacobs book. She would have been pleased with the campaign, I’m sure.


Jimmy Zoubris said...

Great to see a nice guy .....and at the same time send the arrogant Liberals a message !!!
(oops I used to be a Liberal, ...still am but I supported the right man for the job)....I hope and I am sure Mulcair won't let us down.

Martin Langeland said...

Pardon, but, if a Yank may say it: well done!
Not just for the NDP win but for your efforts at the poll, Mary. Poll workers are among the more deserving overlooked guardians of democracy.

Mary Soderstrom said...

Thanks for your comments. The election above all else shows how receptive the public is to a candidate who is not afraid to stand up for what he (or she) believes in. That's the best side of democracy.


Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Congratulations on a fight well fought, and a well-deserved victory! The NDP owes an awful lot to you people on the ground.

Craig Sauvé said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Sauvé said...

The poll station at which I worked too was covered by New Democrats, while the tories and the bloc had only one person to cover the 12 polls.

I loved watching the count. Poll 14: Mulcair 85; Coulon, 16; Duguay, 25 and Gilson, 5. Music to mine ears.