The federal Conservatives ended a 19-year drought with a decisive byelection victory in Quebec's separatist heartland on Monday night.
Tory candidate Denis Lebel, the popular mayor of Roberval, dethroned the Bloc Quebecois candidate in Roberval-Lac-St-Jean for the first time since the general election of 1988. The commanding win appeared to bolster Prime Minister Stephen Harper's assiduous courtship of Quebec since the January 2006 general election.
There was grim news for Stephane Dion in the results. The Liberals were far behind with close to half the votes counted in their traditional Montreal stronghold of Outremont and his two candidates in Roberval and St-Hyacinthe were in single digits. [....]
The Conservative game plan was clear. By focusing on Quebec, Harper hoped to highlight ongoing Liberal woes in the province while giving a cautious road test to his own minority government's mid-term popularity.