The Parti Quebecois feels that it might be on the verge of a historic victory in the longtime Liberal fortress of Verdun and spent Friday wooing voters with $5 million in new sports facilities for the area, including an aquatic centre.

The PQ candidate will be Lorraine Pintal, who heads the prestigious Theatre du Nouveau Monde and forms a power couple with developer Christian Yaccarini.

The Liberal candidate for the first time since 1989 will be someone other than Henri-Francois Gautrin, who has stepped aside after embarrassing leader Philippe Couillard by predicting a PQ majority victory in the upcoming vote.

On Friday Gautrin denied that he was forced out. “No, frankly it’s my decision,” said Gautrin at a press conference.

Gautrin edged PQ challenger Thierry St. Cyr in the 2012 provincial election by a mere 547 votes.

Those numbers sound promising for PQ brass in the area that has voted Llberal since 1949.

“I think Verdun is a changing place. I think the cultural involvement of people of Verdun is very strong," Jean-François Lisée minister for the Montreal region, told CTV Montreal.

And some pundits aren’t entirely sure that the PQ's optimism isn’t well-founded.

“The government seems much more in control than it was when it first took office and isn't making blunders,” said York University Political Science Professor Bruce Hicks.

Some Verdun residents interviewed by CTV Montreal said they felt that the longtime MNA Gautrin was treated unfairly but are still determined to vote Liberal, as they fear the language issues that come with the PQ.

“I’m an English speaker my mom's English, she doesn’t speak French they're making it really hard on us making us feel like we're not at home,” said one Verdun resident.

Gautrin, 70, taught math at the Universite de Montreal and led the New Democratic Party in Quebec before joining the Lliberals.

Gautrin was hand-picked by then-Liberal leader Robert Bourassa over longtime mayor Raymond Bosse in 1989, leading many to jeer him at his nomination.

The Liberals won the seat that year with Gautrin, but their 8,000 vote margin was reduced to just 1,500.

In 1995 he was fined $330 for driving drunk and in 2000 he criticized his leader Jean Charest for saying he was in Ontario when he was vacationing in Mexico.

Charest later removed him of his cabinet responsibilities.

And finally on Monday, February 10 Gautrin told the Canadian Press that he believes the Parti Quebecois is headed for a majority.

Jacques D'Aoust, the former president of Investissement Québec is expected to run for the Liberals in the riding.