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Oct. 3, 2018: Quebec premier-designate Francois Legault gestures as he addresses a meeting of his new caucus and defeated candidates in Boucherville, Que.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The latest

  • Outgoing Quebec premier Philippe Couillard announced his resignation Thursday, three days after his Liberals suffered a historic defeat to the Coalition Avenir Québec. He urged the new government to take care of minorities and immigrants: “Quebec must remain a smiling place of welcome, where people are judged by what is in their head, not on their head, what is in their hearts.”
  • The reference to headgear was an allusion to his successor, premier-designate François Legault, who said he might use the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to bar public servants like teachers, police and judges from wearing religious symbols like the hijab. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned the new CAQ government to tread lightly on the use of the clause.
  • On Wednesday, the CAQ held its first caucus meeting since the Monday election that brought the right-wing party to its first-ever majority. Mr. Legault spoke about how the party’s mission is to bring Quebeckers together.
  • Mr. Legault inherits a relatively stable provincial economy, which could face rocky days ahead from the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade deal that would open part of Canada’s protected dairy market. Here’s a closer look at the economic challenges the CAQ will face in government.


The results: Quebec’s electoral landscape on Oct. 2

QUEBEC GENERAL ELECTION, 2014 VS. 2018

RESULTS 2014

Party

Seats

Number of votes candidate won by

CAQ

22

CAQ

LIB

QS

PQ

Less than 5,000

LIB

70

5,000 to 10,000

QS

3

Over 10,000

PQ

30

Montreal

RESULTS 2018

Party

Seats

Number of votes candidate won by

CAQ

74

CAQ

LIB

QS

PQ

LIB

32

Less than 5,000

5,000 to 10,000

QS

10

Over 10,000

PQ

9

VOTER TURNOUT 2014

Per cent

Less than 50

50 - 60

60 - 70

Over 70

VOTER TURNOUT 2018

Per cent

Less than 50

50 - 60

60 - 70

Over 70

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: ELECTIONS QUEBEC

QUEBEC GENERAL ELECTION, 2014 VS. 2018

RESULTS 2014

Party

Seats

Number of votes candidate won by

CAQ

22

CAQ

LIB

QS

PQ

Less than 5,000

LIB

70

5,000 to 10,000

QS

3

Over 10,000

PQ

30

Montreal

RESULTS 2018

Party

Seats

Number of votes candidate won by

CAQ

74

CAQ

LIB

QS

PQ

Less than 5,000

LIB

32

5,000 to 10,000

QS

10

Over 10,000

PQ

9

VOTER TURNOUT 2014

Per cent

Less than 50

50 - 60

60 - 70

Over 70

VOTER TURNOUT 2018

Per cent

Less than 50

50 - 60

60 - 70

Over 70

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: ELECTIONS QUEBEC

QUEBEC GENERAL ELECTION, 2014 VS. 2018

2014

2018

RESULTS

Seats

Seats

Number of votes

candidate won by

22

CAQ

74

CAQ

LIB

QS

PQ

70

LIB

32

Less than 5,000

3

QS

10

5,000 to 10,000

Over 10,000

30

PQ

9

Montreal

VOTER

TURNOUT

2014

2018

Per cent

Less than 50

50 - 60

60 - 70

Over 70

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: ELECTIONS QUEBEC


CAQ triumphant

This is only the third election for the Coalition Avenir Québec, a populist coalition of federalists and former separatists that François Legault, a former Parti Québécois cabinet minister, co-founded in 2011. But this was also Quebec’s first election in four decades in which sovereignty wasn’t a campaign issue, which freed up traditional voting blocs – federalist and separatist alike – to change their allegiances. Mr. Legault profited from that upheaval more than anyone else: His party won traditional Liberal seats in the Eastern Townships, Outaouais and Montreal region, as well as PQ bastions like Lac-Saint-Jean.

A jubilant Mr. Legault reached out to both sides of his new voter base on Monday night. “Today Many Quebeckers have demonstrated that it’s possible to make adversaries from yesterday work together for tomorrow,” he said in his acceptance speech.


Liberals routed

Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard waves to supporters as his wife Suzanne Pilote looks on, in Saint-Felicien Que., on election night.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Liberals have governed Quebec for the past 15 years, aside from an 18-month interlude of PQ rule in 2012-14. But on Monday night, Leader Philippe Couillard led the party to one of its worst defeats: It got less than 25 per cent of the popular vote, down from 41.5 per cent in the last election, as voters in majority francophone ridings turned mostly to the CAQ. In his concession speech, Mr. Couillard congratulated Mr. Legault and took responsibility for the Liberals' losses, saying he would “undertake a reflection on my personal future” as leader of the party. Mr. Couillard is expected to resign on Thursday. “In politics, you have to learn how to taste the joy of victory and accept defeat because they are the two sides of democracy. I am not bitter and I ask you not to be. I am proud and you should be also.”

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Separatists realigned

Québec solidaire's Manon Massé speaks to her supporters at an election-night rally in Montreal.

Peter Mccabe/The Canadian Press

The PQ, a dominating force in Quebec politics for more than 50 years, got reduced to fourth-place status in one of its worst election performances ever. It won only 17 per cent of the popular vote and just nine seats, short of the 20 per cent and 12 seats it needed to maintain official party status. Leader Jean-François Lisée lost his Montreal seat of Rosemont and announced his resignation, taking “a large part of the responsibility” for the disappointing result.

The PQ had been outflanked on the left by the Québec solidaire party, which Mr. Lisée had accused of being a stealth “Marxist" front. QS grew from three seats to 10, and made inroads beyond its usual base of support in Montreal. “Québec Solidaire is not just the party of the Plateau Mont-Royal," party’s co-spokesperson Manon Massé said Monday night, referring to the bohemian Montreal neighbourhood seen as the party’s traditional turf. "Québec Solidaire is the party of people who want change for real.”


Turnout in decline

For all the rhetoric of change and political alliances breaking down, not as many Quebeckers voted this time around as in previous years. As of Tuesday morning, the estimated turnout was just over 66 per cent, the second-lowest in 45 years. (The next-lowest, from 2008, was a snap election held only a year after the previous one that took the Liberals' Jean Charest from minority to majority government.)

Is Legault the premier yet?

No, he’s the premier-designate. He officially becomes the premier when he and his cabinet are sworn in by Quebec’s Lieutenant-Governor, J. Michel Doyon. Please gently correct anyone who calls Mr. Legault “premier-elect”: There is no such thing in Canada’s parliamentary system, in which premiers are the leaders of parties or coalitions who have the most seats in their legislatures. No one is directly elected to the office of premier.

Watch: On election night, premier-designate François Legault told supporters that it had been a heated campaign, but that it is now time for collaboration. The Canadian Press

The issues at stake

Immigration

Immigration was one of the fault lines of this election: The Liberals planned to raise the immigration quota from 50,000 per year to 60,000, while the CAQ vowed to cut it to 40,000 and subject immigrants to a “Quebec values” and French-language test, potentially expelling those who failed it. Toward the campaign’s end, even Mr. Legault was unclear about how the policy would work; he failed to answer several key questions about immigration in the province, and at the final debate, he softened his tone somewhat and admitted “It happens, I make mistakes, when I answer certain questions on immigration. I listen, and I correct my mistakes.”

Clarifying Quebec’s future policy on immigration, and convincing Quebeckers to support it, will be a major challenge for the CAQ government: Immigration to Quebec has grown over recent years, as indicated in the charts below, but the province has had trouble retaining immigrants in the face of competition from Ontario and Western Canada. That’s exacerbated labour shortages in the province that municipalities had hoped to fill with immigrant workers.


Economy

Mr. Legault, a former airline executive, ran on promises of low taxes and business-friendly policies. But investors will still have to be convinced that an untested party, only seven years old, will deliver on those pledges once in government. Mr. Legault has one big advantage: A lower debt and balanced budgets inherited from his Liberal predecessor, who instituted unpopular cuts to health care and social services to make that happen. “The new government will take the reins of the province in a very enviable situation,” Sébastien Lavoie, chief economist for Laurentian Bank in Montreal, told The Globe and Mail. “Back in 2014, credit agencies were putting pressure on the province, and economic growth was sluggish. Now, it’s as good as it gets in terms of economic momentum. The house is in order.”

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Trade

Just as Quebec’s party leaders were wrapping up their last campaign day, Canadian and U.S. negotiators in Washington concluded a historic trade deal that will have big implications for Quebeckers. The proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, successor to the North American free-trade agreement, would open up a percentage of Canada’s protected dairy market to U.S. producers. Farmers in Quebec, the largest dairy-producing province, stand to lose a lot from increased competition and the end of policies that allowed them to sell surplus skim milk easily. All of Quebec’s party leaders opposed any softening of supply management, but it is now Mr. Legault who has to deal with the impact.


The reaction

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

Analysis and commentary

Konrad Yakabuski: CAQ’s election victory is an indictment of Quebec’s political establishment

Campbell Clark: For Trudeau, Quebec’s Legault is a new kind of challenge

Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from Les Perreaux, Ingrid Peritz, Rhéal Séguin and The Canadian Press

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