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This Liberal stronghold located within Montreal’s historic Italian community wasn’t supposed to be a riding to watch. Since its creation in 1988, the riding has only been represented by Liberals of Italian origin. For this election, however, the Liberals had nominated an engineer and former imam named Hassan Guillet, whose 2017 eulogy during the funeral service for the six men shot dead in a Quebec City mosque received worldwide attention. But in late August the party booted Guillet after the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith found some of the candidate’s old social media posts it described as anti-Semitic. In his place, the Liberals nominated city councillor Patricia Lattanzio, a member of Montreal’s Italian community. The Conservatives stuck to tradition and nominated Ilario Maiolo, a Montreal lawyer of Italian descent. It remains to be seen whether voters in Saint-Leonard—Saint-Michel have had enough political drama and want to turn towards another party. If they do, it would deliver a blow to the Liberals’ image as the party of multiculturalism.

Population: 113,212 (2016 census)

Major communities: the borough of St-Leonard; parts of the boroughs of Villeray–St-Michel–Parc-Extension and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie.

Incumbent: Vacant. Lawyer Nicola Di Iorio won with the Liberals in 2015 but resigned in January.

Main challengers: City councillor Patricia Lattanzio for the Liberals; lawyer Ilario Maiolo with the Conservatives; ex-NDP MP Paulina Ayala running again with the New Democrats; Dominique Mougin with the Bloc Quebecois; environmental activist Alessandra Szilagyi with the Greens. Guillet is listed by Elections Canada as an Independent.

Election history: Saint-Leonard—Saint-Michel has only been represented by Liberals since it was created in 1988. Nicola Di Iorio won in 2015 with 38 per cent of the vote. Before the 2015 election, the riding was held by Massimo Pacetti, who won it for the Liberals in the 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011 elections. Before Pacetti, the riding was held by Liberal Alfonso Gagliano.

Fun fact: In 2017, amateur explorers discovered a network of ice age caves below the streets and parks of Montreal’s St-Leonard borough. The damp, stratified limestone walls and passages are lined with stalactites, formed over thousands of years by tiny drips of water.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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