'I'm going to be the premier of all Quebecers': Legault elected with majority government
François Legault has been elected for a second mandate as Quebec premier with a majority government, CTV News has declared.
Within eight minutes of the polls closing across the province at 8 p.m. ET, CTV News declared Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) party has secured a resounding win in the Quebec legislature.
Addressing supporters at his campaign headquarters Monday night, Legault told a large crowd that some of his key priorities will be the economy and tackling inflation. He also vowed to reform the health-care system under Christian Dubé's leadership.
"Quebecers had a very clear message: let's continue!" the CAQ leader shouted to a boisterous crowd.
During his victory speech, Legault spoke a few words in English, just as he did after winning in 2018, in what some political observers considered an olive branch to the minority anglophone and allophone populations.
"When I say Quebecers form a great nation I mean all Quebecers from all regions, of all ages, of all origins. I'm going to be the premier of all Quebcers," said Legault, who won his own riding of L'Assomption by a whopping 58 per cent.
Calling it "the greatest duty as premier," Legault also spoke directly to his francophone base and said he has to protect the French language that he warned is under attack in the province.
"And whether we like it or not, the future of French depends largely on our ability to integrate in French those who have recently chosen to build their future in Quebec," he added, in reference to newcomers to the province.
CAQ CRUISES TO VICTORY, WINS 90 SEATS
For anyone paying attention to the Quebec election campaign over the last 36 days, the victory for the CAQ came as no real surprise.
Poll after poll projected Legault's party would clinch a sweeping electoral victory.
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Legault increased his party's influence in the National Assembly with 90 seats won, up from the 74 seats he won in the 2018 election, which is the most seats any party has won in Quebec since 1989.
The Liberals trailed behind in second place with 21 seats, mostly in and around the Island of Montreal, meanwhile Quebec solidaire won in 11 ridings. The Parti Quebecois finished with just three seats and the Quebec Conservatives did not win a single seat.
At dissolution, the CAQ had 76 of the legislature's 125 seats due to by-elections, while the Liberals had 27, Quebec solidaire had 10 and the Parti Quebecois had seven. The Conservative Party of Quebec held one seat and there were four Independents.
"We were very surprised, at 8:09 p.m., a majority government," Michelle Dupont, 70, a CAQ supporter, told The Canadian Press at Legault's headquarters.
Dupont, who attended the event with her sister, said she supports Legault because of his charisma, the humanity he showed during the COVID-19 pandemic and his team.
"It's because of the platform, their values. It's above all the values that connect with me," she said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among the Canadian political leaders who congratulated Legault on his victory Monday evening. In a statement, Trudeau said he is looking forward to "continuing to work with Premier Legault and the Government of Quebec to address issues of importance to Quebecers and all Canadians."
The 2022 election was by all accounts a race for second place as polling suggested the status of official Opposition was up for grabs between the Quebec Liberal Party and Quebec solidaire.
CTV News declared soon after the polls closed that the Liberals will retain their status as the official Opposition in the National Assembly.
ANGLADE, NADEAU-DUBOIS WIN SEATS, DUHAIME DEFEATED
Meanwhile, CTV News declared the co-spokesperson for Quebec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, is keeping his seat in the Montreal riding of Gouin.
All other party leaders won their seats, with the exception of Quebec Conservative Party leader Eric Duhaime, who was defeated by the CAQ by about 6,300 votes.
Dominique Anglade won her Montreal riding in Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne with 36 per cent of the vote.
Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon will have the chance to lead his party, for the first time, in the National Assembly after winning in the Montreal riding of Camille-Laurin.
The CAQ made some major gains Monday night, particularly in ridings that were up for grabs after the incumbent announced they were not seeking re-election.
Yannick Gagnon easily won the seat in Jonquière with 59 per cent of the vote -- the seat was left vacant after veteran PQ MNA Sylvain Gaudreault bowed out of the race.
In Joliette, where incumbent Veronique Hivon left the race after 14 years in politics, the CAQ's François St-Louis won with 44 per cent of voter support versus the PQ's 31 per cent.
Legault spent part of the day Monday in the Quebec City area asking voters to throw their support behind his party -- and they did.
"We need your vote because we want to continue — continue — to fight for a more prosperous, greener, and prouder Quebec," he said Monday.
The CAQ campaign was, however, rocky at times with a few gaffes by the incumbent premier, though they did not seem to sway voters away from the party in large numbers. On two occasions, Legault was forced to apologize for comments he had made on the campaign trail.
In one instance, the CAQ leader said he was sorry for drawing parallels between immigrants and "violence" and "extremists."
He also apologized to the family of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman who died on Sept. 28, 2020, after saying problems of racism were "settled" at the hospital where she died.
In his four years in power, Legault passed 125 bills in the National Assembly, including legislation to replace school boards with school service centres, a revamped French-language charter, and the controversial secularism law that banned public servants in positions of authority, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols on the job.
All three laws adopted by the CAQ government are currently being challenged in the courts, but it was Bill 96 that Bill 21 that surprised many with the exceptional use of the notwithstanding clause.
Correction: The original version of this report stated the CAQ won 89 seats in the National Assembly. This number has been corrected, as the CAQ won 90 seats.
With files from The Canadian Press.
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