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Liberals, Quebec Solidaire battle for Montreal seat in byelection

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Sunday marked the first day of advance polling in the Montreal riding of Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne, where candidates are vying to fill the seat vacated by Dominique Anglade.

Eleven candidates are in the running, though two parties lead in a dead heat: the Quebec Liberals and Quebec Solidaire.

A self-described social entrepreneur, Christopher Baenninger is running for the Liberals. He founded a sustainability marketing firm and owns a language school specialized for immigrants.

"The enthusiasm of the party, of the volunteers, is astronomical," said Baenninger from the party's headquarters Sunday.

Baenninger is neck-and-neck with Quebec Solidaire candidate, immigration lawyer Guillaume Cliche-Rivard.

Knocking on doors this weekend, Cliche-Rivard said he believes his background gives him an edge with locals.

"They want to change the narrative on immigration. They want to have a more positive dialogue, and we need to work together for a better and more inclusive Quebec," he said.

For Quebec Solidaire, the byelection is another chance for a breakthrough in Montreal's Southwest, after capturing a win in the Verdun riding in the 2022 general election.

It's an uphill battle to get people out to vote for a byelection, according to political analyst David Heurtel.

Both parties have wounds to reckon with from the last election, he said.

"[Quebec Solidaire] garnered less votes than the previous election. That had never happened before for Quebec Solidaire," said Heurtel. "We know the problems with the Liberals. No leader – they're still searching themselves for any type of message to rally themselves around after their worst defeat in their 155-year history."

Both candidates say a significant focus in the riding is affordable housing.

"Affordable is a misnomer. Affordable starts at $800 a month. That is not affordable for a lot of people in Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne," said Baenninger.

The province needs to invest more in social housing, he said.

"I think the main issue of this campaign is social housing, the cost of living crisis, the cost of housing, the increase on housing," said Cliche-Rivard.

Advance polling is open Sunday and Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters can also cast their ballots at the office of the returning officer on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Thursday, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Voting day is March 13, when polls will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. 
 

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