Coalition party forms majority government

04 Octobre, 2018, 21:39 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Legault elected as new Quebec Premier

Quebecers charted a new course for their province Monday by giving the seven-year-old Coalition Avenir Quebec a majority mandate in an election result that could create waves beyond its borders.

With all 125 ridings declared, the Coalition Avenir Quebec has 74 seats, the Liberals 32, Quebec solidaire 10 and the Parti Quebecois nine. The losses include a defeat a year ago in British Columbia where power went to the left-leaning New Democrats.

Legault used to be staunchly pro-independence as a key member of former PQ governments.

"We will build a stronger Quebec - a prouder Quebec!" he shouted, his voice nearly cracking.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened his first First Ministers' meeting, he would have looked around the room and seen many allies.

Couillard also thanked volunteers and his family and congratulated the Coalition's Francois Legault, whose victory he said was "complete and without ambiguity".

While the other leaders gathered in Quebec City and Montreal, the incumbent premier chose to spend election night some 250 kilometres north of the capital on the shores of Lac-Saint-Jean, in the Roberval riding he's represented since 2014.

Last week, a recording of Legault's wife, Isabelle Brais, captured her criticizing Trudeau.

Brais, a fixture by Legault's side during the campaign, described the younger Trudeau as incompetent and suggested a Coalition government could have strained ties with his federal government.

Legault declined to say whether he endorsed his wife's comments about the prime minister, saying she's "an independent woman who has her opinions, who is spontaneous, who apologized". Legault ended almost 15 years of continuous Liberal rule with the victory.

"I think the vast majority of Quebecers, they would like to have a framework where we say that people in authority positions must not wear religious signs, and if we have to use the notwithstanding clause to apply what the majority of Quebecers want, we will do so", he said.

Responsibility, however, for such expulsions would fall to the federal government.

Legault's win follows Ontario Premier Doug Ford's majority victory in June.

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While Legault began the election campaign as the front-runner, the party's lead dwindled as the Liberals gained ground later on.

"We absorbed a shock tonight, but we stand up straight and strong because Quebec still needs the Parti Quebecois", Lisee said after the vote. The Liberals have been ousted from power.

The emergence of Legault's party, which won just 22 seats in 2014 to finish third, came in large part at the expense of the PQ.

The PQ's raison d'etre - Quebec sovereignty - has lost its lustre with voters and for the first time in decades, talk of a referendum on independence was not a ballot-box issue.

Faced with the shift in public sentiment, Lisee entered the race vowing not to hold a referendum on sovereignty in his first mandate as premier.

Lisee said he knew from the outset it would be a tough slog as the party took fire from all sides: from the surging Coalition for nationalist voters and from Quebec solidaire for the sovereigntist vote.

"For as long as there are battles to fight for justice, equality, environment, secularism, French - Quebec will need the Parti Quebecois". Same thing with the Parti Quebecois: worst showing since its creation in 1970.

In the meantime, the centre-left staunchly sovereignist Quebec Solidaire tripled the number of its seats to 10, emerging as the other big victor of Monday's vote.

"Today, our movement is bigger, stronger, more resolute than ever", said Masse.

Should Quebec solidaire win, the party's other spokesperson, Manon Masse, would be premier.

The party is hoping to parlay its momentum into more seats than the three it held at dissolution.

He grabbed national headlines during the campaign when he proposed lowering Quebec's annual immigration levels by 20 per cent. Legault also said he wanted to force newcomers to pass French and values tests within three years of their arrival - or face removal from the province. There were five Independents.

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