Jean-Francois Lisée loses his seat as he leads PQ to one of its worst showings in history
Jean-Francois Lisée has led the Parti Quebecois to its worst showing in its 50-year history, winning 17 percent of the popular vote and just ten seats in the National Assembly.
That is not enough to maintain official party status in Quebec.
In its first election the party's founder, René Levesque, led the PQ to seven seats with 23 percent of the popular vote.
In his concession speech, Lisée, who lost his Rosemont riding to Quebec Solidaire's Vincent Marissal, said he ran his campaign with "rigour and happiness, and a record number of female candidates and young candidates."
He said, however, that he knew he would have a rough campaign, knowing that people wanted to remove the Liberals, but was not able to convince voters to pick the PQ.
"The will of the people to choose the CAQ to get rid of the Liberals was stronger than ever," said Lisée. "To win, we needed to get up Niagara Falls with paddles. And we paddled. We blistered our palms."
He said however that when the votes are counted, there are still many separatists in Quebec -- pointing to the strong support for the other leading separatist party, Quebec Solidaire.
Lisée said that having been defeated in his own riding he could no longer lead the PQ.
"I will be with you in the next battles, always. But I take a large part of the responsibility for tonight's result," said Lisée
Bravo au nouveau député de Rosemont, Vincent @vmarissal. Vous avez été choisi pour représenter des gens exceptionnels. Prenez-en grand soin, ils le méritent. #polqc— Jean-François Lisée (@JFLisee) October 2, 2018
The PQ entered the election campaign in third place in the hearts and minds of Quebecers, many of whom wrote the party off after Lisée declared in 2016 that a PQ government would not hold a referendum in its first mandate.
That choice may have been inevitable following the party's loss two years earlier: support for the PQ tanked when, during the 2014 election campaign, Pierre Karl Peladeau raised his fist and promised a quick march to independence.
Instead of a second mandate, Pauline Marois lost her seat, and her party won just 28 seats.
In an attempt to bolster support, Lisée said that Quebecers needed options, and he promised that a PQ government would not hold a referendum in the four years following its election. Instead, it would focus on improving services, and devote four years to ramping up support for independence.
However by taking sovereignty off the table, Lisée created the first election campaign in 50 years where separation was not discussed and as a result Quebecers have spent several weeks looking at other issues, namely immigration and the economy.
Veteran PQ MNA Francois Gendron said he felt that young people supported Quebec Solidaire because it allowed them to "dream" and the PQ also lost the support of the Bloc Quebecois.
As those who came of age -- or were born -- after the last referendum reached adulthood, the youth vote abandoned the party, with polls indicating that young voters preferred either the Liberals, or Quebec Solidaire--the two main parties in Quebec that feature an inclusive view of Quebecers.
"It is the party of our grandparents," said Marlene Jennings. "I'm going to be 67 in two months. I voted for René Levesque back in the early '70s in the first election I could vote for. The PQ is the generation of the grandparents and great-grandparents."
Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe -- who at one point ran to become leader of the PQ -- thought otherwise.
"People wanted to get rid of the Liberals and they didn't think the PQ was able to do that job so they switched to the CAQ," said Duceppe.
Throughout the campaign PQ candidate Michelle Blanc found herself in a controversy surrounding social media.
In blog posts from 2007, Blanc asked why the Hasidic community shouldn't relocate to "the middle of the woods, on the edge of civilization."
The post came after Blanc expressed frustration that the Hasidic Jews in Outremont didn't reply when she waved hello.
At the beginning of the campaign, she inferred that a critic of the PQ was a pedophile.
She's also written tweets with the n-word, and joked that she "forgot to wish Hitler a happy birthday."
Lisée also had to defend Guy Leclair, who ultimately withdrew from the campaign, after he was arrested in July for drunk driving.
From laughter to anger
The PQ launched its campaign with a sense of humour and a slogan, 'Seriously,' that poked fun at itself.
Lisée frequently laughed at himself, at others, and cracked jokes throughout the campaign.
But Lisée also showed an angry streak after the co-spokespeople for Quebec Solidaire campaigned in Rosemont, breaking an unwritten rule of politics to not send party leaders into the riding held by another party's leader.
During the final televised debate, Lisée also pressed Massé on the identity of the real leader of Quebec Solidaire.
"This party, Quebec Solidaire, a new party on the scene, they have spokespersons, but there is a chief somewhere that is more important than the spokespersons," he said. "Why don't we know him, why don't we see him, why doesn't he give interviews?"
The identity of that mysterious person is Gaetan Chateauneuf, the party's secretary general, who is identified by Quebec's Director General of Elections as the party's leader, although the party says Massé would act as premier in the event the party forms a government.
That feuding between Quebec Solidaire and the PQ continued throughout the campaign, with Lisée calling Manon Massé a Marxist or a Communist.