Federal Conservatives have raked in plenty of fundraising dollars, in part, by telling supporters the “urban media elite” are mobilizing to see them defeated.
And just this week, Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel accused the media of trying to confuse Canadians about the mission in Iraq.
But a former journalist hoping to run for the Tories in a riding the party has long coveted has already received the endorsement of a key member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s inner circle.
On Wednesday, prominent Quebec TV personality Pascale Déry, who recently quit her job at TVA after 15 years, launched her bid for a Conservative nomination in the Montreal riding of Mount Royal. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, one of the most high-profile Quebec Tories, was by her side.
A senior Tory source told The Globe and Mail that Blaney’s presence at the kick-off suggests the party sees her bid as an “encouraging sign.” There are two others pursuing the nomination — newspaper editor Beryl Wajsman and former provincial politician and anglo-rights activist Robert Libman.
Déry told The Huffington Post Quebec that leaving behind her journalism career was a risk worth taking and a choice based on her convictions.
“I see that this is a strong government,” she said. “It’s a government that has [had] huge achievements, that has an impeccable record and I really want this message to go through.”
Déry, 38, said she wants to be “the new face of Conservatism” in the province, suggesting the party needs younger candidates to help improve its image. Tories only have five MPs in the province and none on the island of Montreal.
A Jewish mother of two, she suggested the Harper government’s strong support of Israel could help improve Tory fortunes in Mount Royal.
“You have to understand that 30 per cent of the population is Jewish,” she said. “They’re already conservatives.”
But Déry, who speaks English, French and Spanish, is confident she can reach out to other communities in the riding and bring both francophones and anglophones onside.
“You have to know that the riding has changed. We can’t have that language barrier anymore,” she said. “There are English and French, Jews and Muslims, there’s everything in that riding. And I feel like I’m the best candidate to answer the needs of the people.”
Déry said that, as a journalist, she was always “upright, honest and fair.” Now, she hopes to use her communications skills in the political arena.
“We have to be able to open up to journalists, to the media, to not be afraid of communicating our ideas,” she said.
Blaney told reporters that Dery “embodies a new generation” of young, articulate people and predicted she will “put Montreal back in government.”
For more than 15 years, Mount Royal has been represented by Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who is not running again. Liberals have held the riding for almost 75 years, including nearly two decades by former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
But the Liberal vote in Mount Royal has shifted dramatically over the years. In 1999, Cotler received 92 per cent of the vote in the byelection that first gave him a place in Parliament. In the 2011 federal election, however, Cotler won with just 41 per cent of the total vote.
Saulie Zajdel, the Tory candidate who finished 2,260 votes behind Cotler, was charged with fraud in 2013.
Last month, Liberals nominated Côte St-Luc mayor Anthony Housefather to carry the party banner in the election, scheduled for October.
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With files from Catherine Lévesque