Is anyone surprised that the Quebec Liberal Party has lost power in the province?
I must say I am very surprised to have seen a Coalition Avenir Québec majority. My expectation was a CAQ minority. Now we have new Premier-elect Francois Legault set to take office for the next four years.
Was there any way for now outgoing Premier Philippe Couillard to win this election? There has been an appetite for electoral change for years now. Nobody predicted that Justin Trudeau would win a Liberal majority federally. In Montreal we had Valerie Plante upset Denis Coderre in the mayoral race. And in Ontario there is the disaster known as Premier Doug Ford.
While the Liberals boasted about their strong financial record, they took the electorate for fools. Their austerity agenda at the beginning of the mandate was too aggressive. As Health Minister Gaetan Barrette turned so many voters against the party, Couillard was foolish to believe they would forget about his reform. Couillard had the chance to shuffle Barrette and he did not. That was a big mistake.
Couillard also continued to earn his nickname "Philippe Le Flop." For more than a year school boards presented briefs and protested what appeared to be a done deal in terms of abolishing elected commissioners - something which was not even on the Liberal platform. Then suddenly Couillard cancelled the reform.
While Couillard won his riding, it is clear that he will not be the leader when the next election comes along. Look for businessman Alexandre Taillefer to take a run at the big job. Pierre Moreau was always considered the heir apparent, but he lost his Chateauguay riding.
Jean-François Lisée lost his own Rosemont riding and will certainly step down as PQ leader. Will Veronique Hivon step up to the job or will the party suffer a slow death as Andy Nulman suggested on CTV? What about media mogul Pierre-Karl Peladeau? Will he attempt a second chance to revive the party?
Québec Solidaire has the wind in its sails. I honestly believe that Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois will eventually become this party's leader. He is young, charismatic and sharp. While separatism was not a ballot box issue this time, it will be back on the agenda with QS in four years. Ditto for the PQ if they survive the next mandate. Neither the QS or the PQ have official party status. You need 12 seats for that. Perhaps some PQ members will cross the floor.
Now Legault must form a cabinet. Look for outgoing Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles Mayor Chantal Rouleau, elected in Pointe-aux-Trembles for the CAQ, to become Minister of Municipal Affairs. She will also represent the Island of Montreal. Other names to expect include Danielle McCann as Health Minister, Christian Dubé as Finance Minister, Ian Lafreniere as Public Security Minister and Margaret Blais getting her Seniors portfolio back - the move by Couillard that prompted her to quit politics in anger and then resurface under the CAQ banner. She is an ardent federalist, as are many of the new CAQ MNAs. I would frankly like to see her as Minister Responsible for Anglo Affairs.
So let's all take a deep breath and get ready for next summer's federal election campaign. Will Justin Trudeau get a second mandate?