If any province is likely to confound the pundits and embarrass the pollsters on October 19, it is Quebec.
At the outset of the 2011 federal election most predicted the separatist Bloc Québécois would take a majority of the province’s seats, as they had in every election since their creation in 1993. Instead, the BQ was decimated by the NDP, a party that had previously held just one seat in Quebec. Political historians are still trying to fathom the Orange Wave, as it was called, but most agree it had much to do with NDP leader Jack Layton, who wowed Quebecers with his performances in the national leaders’ debates and a popular Francophone talk show – even as he was fighting the cancer that would kill him within a few months of the election. Many thought the NDP win was a fluke; with “Le bon Jack” gone, surely the Wave would recede.
Instead, eight weeks into the 2015 campaign, polls are promising a repeat performance from the NDP. Leader Thomas Mulcair, the holder of that lone Quebec seat in 2011, has apparently consolidated his party’s hold on the province. His 58 rookie MPs there have far exceeded the very low expectations that accompanied their arrival in office, and despite running to the right of all his competitors except the Conservatives on fiscal policy, Mulcair appears to have constructed a sturdy bond between his party and the province’s dominant constituencies of leftists and nationalists.