the Liberals are in a battle for third place with the NDP in two of the three ridings at play while they are fighting for their lives in a Montreal seat that they have held for most of the past century...
Even more worrisome for Dion is the battle unfolding in Outremont, a rare riding with a strong francophone component that the Liberals managed to hang on to over the course of the sponsorship affair...
Throughout its history, the riding of Outremont has only once failed to return a Liberal to the House of Commons. In 1988, in the midst of the debate on abortion, pro-choice MP Lucie Pépin lost the ultra-conservative Hasidic vote and the seat to the Conservatives. That campaign was also dominated by Brian Mulroney's free-trade deal with the United States, a project that enjoyed widespread backing in Quebec.
The NDP for its part has only ever held a seat once in Quebec and then only for three years, between 1990 and 1993.
These days, Liberal strategists quote both those facts as a mantra as they fret about the closing gap between their candidate and Jack Layton's. But should Outremont be lost to the party on Sept. 17, the hit inflicted on Dion on the occasion of his first electoral test as leader will be all the more stinging in light of the long odds overcome by the victor.
I doubt Hebert would openly muse about a Liberal defeat in Outremont, dislike for Dion aside, if the prospect didn't seem realistic. Another commentator who is sensing something on the ground, who directly challenges the "safe seat" mentality.
The above doesn't suggest a likely NDP victory, but the ground is clearly fertile for a seismic defeat. I've said this before, Outremont could be a watershed moment for both Dion's future and the Liberal Party in general. If a seat is lost, in the last remaining Quebec bastion, then the Liberals are in a desperate state, with a potential "lame duck" leader in his home province. The stakes are high, and I'm not sure people appreciate the consequences, but Hebert's words are another sign of the shifting sands in Quebec.