By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Quebec Liberals win majority: ‘Division is over’
Philippe Couillard’s Liberals have won the Quebec election with a majority government, crushing the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois and Premier Pauline Marois.
Liberal candidates won in 70 of the province’s ridings, the Parti Quebecois won 30, the Coalition Avenir Quebec took 22 and Quebec Solidaire picked up three. The PQ got about 25 per cent of the popular vote, its lowest share since 1970.
In a stunning turn of events, Marois lost her own seat in Charlevoix-Cote-de-Beaupre to Liberal Caroline Simard.
Couillard, who was a neurosurgeon before he entered politics, easily won his riding of Roberval, defeating PQ incumbent Denis Trottier.
Taking the stage at Liberal headquarters after most of the ballots had been counted, Couillard vowed to run an inclusive and “stable” government that represents the interests of all Quebecers.
“Our language, our flag belongs to all Quebecers,” he said.
Addressing the province’s anglophones in English, Couillard said: “We are all Quebecers. We should all focus on what brings us together. What unites us makes us stronger.”
He later added in French: “Division is over; reconciliation has arrived.”
In her concession speech, Marois announced she will step down as PQ leader and ensure an “orderly transition.”
“Quebecers have spoken and we must respect this result,” she said. “We had so much to offer, so much to accomplish for Quebecers.”
The defeat of the PQ came after a 33-day election campaign many observers described as one of the nastiest in decades.
The Parti Quebecois had only been in power for 18 months. Its controversial values charter, which aimed to prevent public sector workers from wearing “ostentatious” religious symbols, and the push for sovereignty did not sit well with voters.
For many, it was no surprise: opinion polls had been putting the Liberals in the lead for days leading up to election day. (Source: CTV News)