When I was in Montréal in 2012 and the people were marching in the streets, several people told me that the Liberals and Jean Charest were going to get tossed out, I asked who would fill that gap. No one had a clear answer.
Later that year, the Parti Quebecois formed a minority government. When Pauline Marois gambled to try and get a majority in 2014, the Liberals took back the National Assembly under Philippe Couillard.
There was a young party formed in 2011 called the Coalition Avenir Québec, Coalition for Quebec's Future en Anglais. The party was primarily Parti Quebecois members who weren't as concerned about sovereignty issues. The party also merged with the conservative Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) in 2012. The combination of nationalists and federalists formed a centre-right party.
The Coalition Avenir Québec will finally get a chance to form government, winning 74 seats in the 125-person National Assembly in Quebec City.
The Liberals fell to a historic low for the party with 32 seats and will form the official opposition.
The left-wing Quebec Solidaire had its best showing, even doing well outside Montréal. The Quebec Solidaire, which has spokespeople not leaders, jumped up to 10 seats.
The Parti Quebecois finished behind Quebec Solidaire with only 9 seats. The threshold for party status in the National Assembly is 12 seats, the first time the PQ is in this position since forming in 1976.
François Legault has a business background, co-founding Air Transat. But he has an extensive political background, serving as a MNA (member of the national assembly) from 1998-2009 with the Parti Quebecois and as the Minister of Education and Minister of Health. Legault was elected as an MNA for the CAQ in 2012.
The anglophone vote was significantly lower in this election. Preliminary turnout figures showed a drop of nearly 19 percentage points from anglophone ridings. Legault in English did tell Anglophones that "our government will be your government."
During the long by Canadian standards 39-day campaign, Legault tripped in the English-language debate about not knowing how immigration worked. Legault wanted a values test and a French-language test for immigrants after 3 years and could kick out people if they failed. Immigration has been a strong concern of the CAQ but Legault didn't mention immigration in his speech last night. Philippe Couillard got tripped up insisting that Quebecers could survive on a food budget of $75/week.
The new NAFTA type trade deal did come up in speeches last night. The concern in Quebec was whether supply management was threatened, affecting Quebec dairy farmers. Manon Massé, one of the Quebec Solidaire spokespeople, did bring up how Quebec farmers lost out because of the need to protect Ontario auto production.
The temptation is to lump the Quebec election in with New Brunswick as a sign of things to come federally in 2019. As many things are, the situation is different in Quebec. The province needed to find a province-wide option that isn't the Liberals. The CAQ wasn't ready to be that option in 2012 or 2014, but was ready enough in 2018. Quebec and the CAQ need to find a new start. After all, this is the first election since 1968 that wasn't won by the Liberals or the Parti Quebecois.
We did notice during the Montréal Canadiens preseason game in Quebec City this message on the boards: Le 1er octobre, a vous de voter! The rough translation is on October 1, you have to vote. Not sure who or what paid the money for that message, but a nice gesture. For those concerned about the PQ influence in the province, that shouldn't be a reason for the Quebec Nordiques to exist, especially after the 2018 election results.
photo credit: CBC News Network