Quebec Solidaire makes big gains on and off island of Montreal
Quebec Solidaire's slow growth since its founding in 2007 has paid off.
After election one MNA in 2008, two in 2012, and three in 2014, all in adjacent ridings in Montreal the party has now elected ten candidates and has more seats than the Parti Quebecois.
For the first time Quebec Solidaire candidates were elected outside the island of Montreal, including Catherine Dorion and Sol Zanetti in the Quebec City ridings of Taschereau and Jean Lesage.
The riding of Sherbrooke was also taken by Quebec Solidaire, as was Abitibi-Temiscamingue.
It's a big boost for a party which, although it never before had official party status, was granted the right to ask questions in the National Assembly after the 2014 election.
"Quebec Solidaire after 12 years are not reaching the status of official party, which is not great," said Duceppe.
But the party's supporters were clearly overjoyed at winning ten seats, including seats off the island of Montreal where they did not expect to succeed.
"I am so, so proud of us," said co-spokesperson Manon Massé. "So proud of the campaign that you led, that we led, in every corner of Quebec."
Party founder Francoise David told CTV News that her hope was to become a provincial party.
"It's a new level. It's a new step," said David, who stepped down as an MNA last year.
"There is a new generation and they have a lot of energy. They are intelligent, progressive so I am very confident in them."
Unlike other political parties Quebec Soldaire has two co-spokespeople, Manon Massé and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
Nadeau-Dubois has been known for years as one of three leaders of the 2012 student protest movement, while Massé was Quebec Solidaire's first candidate in 2006, although she was was only elected in 2014.
"Quebec Solidaire is the incarnation of something new in Quebec politics, a new movement in which my generation participates a lot," said Nadeau-Dubois.
Massé and Quebec Solidaire came under attack from the Parti Quebecois's Jean-Francois Lisée throughout the campaign, and during debates Lisée demanded Massé reveal the name of the party's real leader.
He was referring to Gaetan Chateauneuf, the party's secretary general, who is identified by Quebec's Director General of Elections as the party's leader, although Quebec Solidaire says Massé would act as premier in the event the party forms a government.
Massé, like her predecessor Francoise David, made a good impression on Quebecers during the debates, including the first-ever televised English debate where she struggled in her second language.
She was also the first QS member to address the Montreal Board of Trade.
During that session board president Michel Leblanc asked Massé flat-out if she was a "socialist revolutionary."
Massé said she was certainly revolutionary, but would not admit to being socialist -- although Quebec Solidaire's platform includes nationalizing banks, mines, and the forestry industry, and drastically increasing taxes on the richest Quebecers.
That convinced the Bloc Quebecois to throw its support behind Quebec Solidaire candidates.
Political analyst Antonia Maioni said that officially sovereigntist parties earned more than 30 percent of the votes cast on Monday.
"It's interesting to see that even though sovereignty was not on the ballot, even though it wasn't an issue, sovereigntist parties were still getting support," said Maioni.
Quebec Solidaire defied a political tradition by actively campaigning in a riding held by another political leader.
Both Nadeau-Dubois and Massé were frequently seen in Rosemont, assisting QS candidate Vincent Marissal as he tried to take the riding from PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisée.
"It's a riding we can take," said Nadeau-Dubois, even though the PQ had held Rosemont since 1994.
Take it they did, as Marissal defeated Lisée in his own riding, saying his campaign had done everything he had hoped for.
"I want to tell you, never say that cynicism wins in Quebec. There is another way to do things," said Marissal.
The party also innovated with its election posters, giving artists free rein to create slogan-free displays.
The themes of fossil fuels and public transit came up several times in the work, as did cultural diversity and free daycare.
Massé was also the only candidate to accept a video-blogger's invitation to review her platform after inhaling helium.