“Cold Shower” for PQ as election sweeps them from power

“Cold Shower” for PQ as election sweeps them from power

For the Parti Québécois and its supporters, this morning’s damp spring rain can only echo the cold shower they received last night.

Polls and pundits had, for the last week or so of the election, been predicting a Liberal win.  While no doubt some CAQ or PQ die-hards were still holding out hope for an upset, the real question on most minds was really whether or not Québécois voters would give Philippe Couillard’s government a majority, locking Québec in to a Liberal government for a full 4-year mandate among uncertainties regarding M. Couillard’s stance on the place of French, religious symbolism, and the undermining rumours of corruption scandals about to erupt once the Charbonneau Commission reconvenes.  François Legault and the CAQ were also making surprising headway in their uphill battle, mostly dragging votes away from the Liberals.  Though it wouldn’t be fair to say it was still anybody’s game, there was still plenty left in the toss-up.

That is, until about 5 minutes into the ballot counting, when the PLQ came out on top and just stayed there.  As the evening progressed, Québec’s electoral map was swept with a wave of red that would make a Russian Cold War General squeal with joy.  The end result: a very strong majority government for the PLQ, with many of the PQ’s star candidates replaced by less-well-known Liberals.  To add insult to injury, Mme Marois herself was not even re-elected in her own riding, losing by over a thousand votes in Charelvoix-Côte-de-Beaupré – itself a PQ stronghold for two decades – to relatively unknown PLQ candidate Caroline Simard.  At the PLQ victory rally in Québec, Mme Simard was given a hero’s welcome.

Other notable PQ candidates to fall include former student activists Leo Bureau-Blouin and Martine Desjardins, laity activist Djemila Benhabib, and outgoing cabinet ministers Yves-François Blanchet, Diane De Courcy, Pierre Duchesne, Réjean Hébert, Élisabeth Larouche, and Bertrand Saint-Arnaud.  Many other notable PQ members, long thought to be in safe strongholds, barely scraped by with a few hundred votes.

The PLQ wasn’t last night’s only winner though.  In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the PQ lost this election more than any other party won.  The CAQ, coming back from an almost-forgotten third place, managed to make modest gains.  They closed the evening with 22 seats (up from 19), but in the context of a majority PLQ government, they’re left with significantly less influence than they had before.  Québec Solidaire, meanwhile, continues to benefit from its strong leadership, picking up a third riding to be represented by long-time QS candidate Manon Massé.  For a party that was barely a fringe movement two years ago, QS is steadily building itself an enclave in downtown Montréal.  The majority of these gains came at the expense of sitting PQ MNAs.

I’ll refrain from delving in to an analysis of the election for now – that will be the subject of a subsequent editorial.  But what’s next for the PQ?  A leadership race, first of all.  Marois resigned from leadership last night, after having graciously acknowledged her defeat and thanked her supporters.  She was flanked by the PQ’s surviving heavy hitters, who will no doubt be evaluating their support in the days to come.  This will no doubt give us plenty to talk about still.

There’s no rush though – the PQ has four years to find its new leader.

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About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset is passionate about discussing (among other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québécois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québécois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image. He has an engineering degree from Université Laval and is currently a law student at McGill University.

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