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Grassroots Effort Forms to Take Down Trudeau in Papineau

Liberal leader's "policies are irrelevant or harmful to the people who live in his riding," organizer says

by David Gray-Donald

Poster up in Papineau (translation: WE PAY, THEY PROFIT)
Poster up in Papineau (translation: WE PAY, THEY PROFIT)
Campaign posters are up all over the Montreal neighbourhood, like here at a metro entrance
Campaign posters are up all over the Montreal neighbourhood, like here at a metro entrance
In Papineau
In Papineau
English version of poster
English version of poster

A crew of 30 volunteers and counting has coalesced for a last minute campaign to try to strip Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's Montreal seat from him in Monday's federal election. A final canvassing of the riding of Papineau, putting up posters and talking to residents there, is happening at 2 pm tomorrow, Sunday October 18th, under the name "Mobilisation: Bloquons Trudeau / Stop Trudeau".

NDP candidate Anne Lagace Dowson has the best shot at defeating Trudeau in Papineau, though the "Bloquons Trudeau" campaign's press release doesn't mention Lagace-Dowson by name, as to remain non-partisan. A poll commissioned by the NDP in September put their candidate at 46% of support and Trudeau at 35%.

Papineau, located in the north end of Montreal, is predominantly a poor and working class neighbourhood. Median individual income was just over $20 000 in the area as of 2010, the time of the most recent census, making it one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada. Roughly 40% of Papineau residents identified as immigrants in 2010. 

It has been Justin Trudeau's riding since 2008. But it is hard to tell whether Papineau citizens identify with the elusive "middle class" that Trudeau continuously appeals to in his campaign. 

"Trudeau appears to be taking the support of Papineau for granted," says Dru Jay, an organizer of the "Bloquons Trudeau" campaign and a director with Friends of Public Services, "but many of his policies are irrelevant or harmful to the people who live in his riding." 

This is not Jay's first time trying to take down a candidate in Papineau. Jay, along with a team of volunteers, rallied support against Conservative Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew in 2006 because of Pettigrew's role in horrific crimes in Haiti. Pettigrew lost Papineau in that election by under 1000 votes, around 2.5% of ballots cast.

The current Fall 2015 campaign takes specific issue with Trudeau's views on privatizing parts of the public sphere. Trudeau has stated his support for public-private partnerships, which often cost taxpayers heavily while benefiting corporations handsomely. Campaigners believe this doesn't sit well with Papineau voters, who are currently watching their provincial Liberal government dismantle Quebec's public services. 

"People are remarkably receptive to our message," says Jay. "The people we talk to are often happy to be engaged. I think there's a lot of skepticism about the official narratives based on lived experience, and rightfully so."

Trudeau campaign staffers are obviously not so keen on this grassroots campaign. "Bloquons Trudeau" posters asking Papineau voters to "stop Trudeau's privatization agenda" are often removed within hours while other's posters remain up for weeks. In a video recorded last weekend a well-dressed woman who refused to identify herself was shown cutting down posters minutes after volunteers put them up.

A defeat in his home riding would be embarrassing for the Liberal leader, who is quite possibly the odds-on favourite to become the next Prime Minister. A loss in Papineau, along with the Gagnier TransCanada scandal, would put a future Liberal government on the defensive to grassroots movements from day one.

Papineau voters will make their decision on Monday. A final canvassing of the riding is being held on Sunday at 2 pm starting at 600 Jean-Talon East.

 


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David Gray-Donald (David Gray-Donald)
montreal and toronto
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