Rigueur, rigueur, rigueur.
Those words were uttered by TVA’s Pierre Bruneau on election night in 2007, after Radio-Canada had earlier incorrectly projected that Liberal leader Jean Charest had lost his seat in the election that swept the Action démocratique du Québec to official opposition status and ended the political career of André Boisclair. TVA held off on calling the race for that seat, and reaped the benefits.
The TV networks make big deals of their “decision desk” teams, the computers, political analysts and experts who wait until they’re absolutely sure that a race can be called before making a decision. That care is counteracted by the race to be the first to declare the result of the election.
But surely the chance of being embarrassed, as Radio-Canada’s Bernard Derome was in 2007, by calling even a single seat wrong would be enough to ensure that they always get it right.
Not so much.
On Monday night, all three local English TV stations with elections specials made more than one incorrect call. And, to their shame, I caught them on my PVR.
8:33: CBC calls Lévis for Liberals
Simon Turmel was one of a few Liberals to steal seats away from the CAQ in the Quebec City region. Or at least that’s what CBC seemed to think, announcing the gain with Turmel sitting in a seemingly comfortable lead of more than 1,100 votes.
But not quite. When the night was over, the CAQ’s Christian Dubé won the riding by 1,943 votes.