Trudeau tours Montreal riding ahead of federal byelection

Trudeau tours Montreal ridings

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his byelection campaign tour on Sunday, appearing in a Montreal riding on behalf of the political upstart who surprised the party with her nomination win.

Trudeau spent about half an hour visiting small businesses in Stephane Dion’s former riding of Saint-Laurent with Liberal candidate Emmanuella Lambropoulos.

The 26-year-old high school teacher pulled off a stunning upset earlier this month when she won the nomination over a former provincial cabinet minister rumoured to be the party favourite.

But if there was any awkwardness, it didn’t show on Sunday.

Trudeau was all smiles as he went door to door at local coffee shops, shaking hands with residents and encouraging them to vote for Lambropoulos on April 3rd.

He then and sang her praises in a brief speech at her campaign office.

“She’s the very image of Saint-Laurent, the image of the Liberal party,” Trudeau told the crowd.

“She’s young, dynamic, focused on the future, and I have to admit, I have a soft spot because she’s a teacher like me,” he said to loud applause.

Lambropoulos won the Liberal nomination over two other competitors, including former Quebec cabinet minister Yolande James.

The win was not without controversy as the man considered to be one of the strongest candidates was not allowed to run for the nomination.

Alan DeSousa, the well-known mayor of Saint-Laurent for the past 15 years, was not told why he was rejected as a candidate.

Former foreign affairs minister Stephane Dion held the riding since 1996 and it is considered a Liberal safe seat.

The NDP has selected Mathieu Auclair to carry its banner in the Saint-Laurent riding, while the Tories have picked Jimmy Yu, who came in second place in the 2015 election behind Dion with 20 per cent of the vote.

The Greens are running their deputy leader, Daniel Green, and the Bloc Quebecois has chosen William Fayad.

Earlier on Sunday, Trudeau served as grand marshal at a Greek independence day parade in his Papineau riding, accompanied by a number of federal and provincial politicians, including Lambropoulos.

Five federal byelections are being held on April 3rd for two seats in Ontario, two in Alberta and one in Quebec.

Trudeau has visited all five in recent days, even though they have long been held by their respective parties and it’s unlikely any will change hands.

Advance voting began on Friday.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press