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UPDATE: Quebec separatist party suffers crushing election defeat

Marois was defeated by the Liberals' Caroline Simard in Monday's election.

(Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS )

Relax Canada, there won't be a sovereignty referendum in Quebec for at least four years.
    
Eighteen months after Quebecers threw out Jean Charest _ once dubbed Captain Canada for his rousing speeches in the 1995 referendum campaign _ they've massively elected Philippe Couillard, one of the most federalist Quebec leaders in years.
    
He helped send the Parti Quebecois to one of its worst electoral defeats by successfully exploiting Quebecers' distaste for a third referendum in a nasty campaign that voters complained didn't focus enough on bread-and-butter issues.
    
The Liberals won 70 of the legislature's 125 seats on Monday, compared with 30 for the PQ. The Coalition for Quebec's Future party took 22 seats and Quebec solidaire finished with an additional seat for a total of three.
    
Couillard, a popular health minister in Jean Charest's government until 2008, presented himself as a uniter when he addressed ecstatic Liberal supporters late Monday evening.
    
``We are all Quebecers,'' he said in his victory speech in his Roberval riding, which he captured from the PQ. ``We should all focus on what brings us together.
    ``Let us say together, with passion, we're all proud of being Quebecers. My friends, division is over. Reconciliation begins.''
    
The PQ will soon be looking for a leader after Pauline Marois announced Monday night she would quit after losing both the premier's job and her own riding.
    
``Quebecers have spoken and we must respect their decision,'' a philosophical-sounding Marois said to disappointed supporters at a Montreal hotel. She urged her troops to fight on and said she was proud of the accomplishments of her 18-month-old government.
    
Marois called the election on March 5, hoping to win a majority based on a campaign of identity politics anchored in its controversial secularism charter, which would have banned public-sector workers from wearing such religious garb as kippas and hijabs.
    
But the entry of celebrity media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau as a PQ star candidate derailed the majority scenario when he delivered an enthusiastic, fist-pumping endorsement of an independent Quebec.
    
The PQ never recovered even though Marois insisted over and over there would be no referendum until Quebecers wanted one.
    
In terms of popular support, the Liberals pulled in 41 per cent on Monday, a dramatic climb from 31 per cent in 2012. And the PQ finished the night with about 25 per cent, just two percentage points more than the Coalition.
    
Marois's defeat follows the crushing of the Bloc Quebecois in the 2011 federal election when it was reduced to four seats and is stunningly similar to one that brought her to the PQ's top job after Andre Boisclair suffered one of the worst electoral thrashings in the PQ's history in 2007.
    
Marois won fewer than the 36 ridings he claimed.
    
Coalition Leader Francois Legault, who had seen support for his party rebound in recent days, watched dejectedly as results came in Monday night, one hand gripping the side of a white couch as his wife sympathetically patted his knee. He later accepted the voters' decision with grace.
    
While no pundit would be foolish enough to declare sovereignty dead, the option has likely been put to sleep for a while. Some observers have suggested it could be years, if not decades, before it is revived.
    
Much of the attention will now turn to Peladeau as a possible replacement for Marois.
    
The Quebecor tycoon won his Saint-Jerome riding on Monday night and will likely be front and centre when the jockeying begins in earnest for the PQ's top job.
    
Monday's results in Quebec no doubt prompted a sigh of relief in Ottawa as well.
    With the PQ out, it means Prime Minister Stephen Harper won't have to worry about a national unity crisis as he heads toward the 2015 election.
    
``The results clearly demonstrate that Quebecers have rejected the idea of a referendum and want a government that will be focused on the economy and job creation,'' Harper said Monday.
   
 ``We look forward to working with the new government of Quebec on those priorities.''
    
At dissolution, the PQ had 54 seats, while the Liberals had 49. The Coalition had 18, Quebec solidaire two and there were two Independents.
    
Voter turnout on Monday was 71.5 per cent, compared with 74.6 per cent in 2012.

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  • 18
  1. Mark posted on 04/08/2014 06:10 AM
    Ding dong the witch is dead, the wicked wicked witch is dead...... Well, that's the good news. The bad news is that they are back in love with the libranos. With them, like always, it's only a matter of time before money starts going down the toilet and corruption rears it's ugly head.

    Viva la Fronce !! Hu hu.
  2. Always Politically Correct posted on 04/08/2014 06:38 AM
    Be careful, Mark. You're dangerously close to overdosing on those stupid pills.
  3. Frankie posted on 04/08/2014 06:57 AM
    If these same Quebeckers had McGuinty's Liberals do to them what they did to us they would have turfed the party out with a huge kick in the ass. Too bad Ontario has the dumbest bunch of Liberal voters in Canada.
  4. don was right posted on 04/08/2014 07:28 AM
    Bunch of racist scum anyway. hope they and their language police rot in French h*ll
  5. enough! posted on 04/08/2014 09:40 AM
    this is what the federal conservatives should expect in the upcoming federal election in 15. A good old fashioned bitch slappin.
    1. Jack posted on 04/08/2014 09:56 AM
      @enough! Really? And who do you think is a suitable replacement for the government that got us through the financial recession with barely a scratch? Justin "Budgets balance themselves" Trudeau, or John Mulcair the Soviet maniac?
    2. enough! posted on 04/08/2014 10:37 AM
      @Jack oh i think we did just fine thank you with 3 Chretien majority's and balanced budgets under Paul Martin. we did fine with Mulroney previously also. not as much the leader as we (Canada) have good financial and banking regulations and checks and a strong social structure. unlike the states which almost had a financial meltdown due to capitalist greed.
      we currently have a foreign policy under Harper that is un Canadian and out of touch. we lost a seat at the UN security council because of Harper's wrong foreign policies.
      You might not like it but J.T. will be the next PM. Canada will change to what we once were when we were more respected around the world as a voice of soft power.
      This current government is stale and the polls show that.
      Harper attacking J.T. with ads a year and a half out? can you say the CONS are worried?
      everything fresh becomes stale after a while just the way it is!!!
    3. AC posted on 04/08/2014 10:39 AM
      @Jack who's John Mulcair?
    4. john posted on 04/08/2014 10:43 AM
      @Jack it is okay mate liberal supporters don't know any better . till there country gos under and there is no money and jobs as when thay will wake up . till then we got real people who dont fall for there crap . keeping that form joining the chapter 11 club like Detroit
    5. Angry Bill posted on 04/08/2014 10:54 AM
      @enough! We did just fine with Martin's budget? Are you aware he balanced HIS budget by offloading a bunch of crap to the provinces for them to deal with instead of him?

      If that's how you like things being balanced, then go nuts.
    6. AC posted on 04/08/2014 11:08 AM
      @john awww... Detroit. capitalism hard at work!
    7. Frankie posted on 04/08/2014 11:13 AM
      @enough! I guess you consider standing up for a country that has had more UN sanctions against it than any other despite millions of people slaughtered in African countries, been the missile target of most of its neighbours, a target of incessant racism by various groups, etc. un-Canadian.

      What does Canada stand for then?
    8. john posted on 04/08/2014 11:47 AM
      @Angry Bill yea and how that turn out ?
    9. don was right posted on 04/08/2014 11:59 AM
      @enough! Is that you Warren K? How mauch are they paying you to post this crap?
    10. Jack posted on 04/08/2014 12:06 PM
      @AC You're STILL trying to blame Detroit on capitalism? Detroit was the perfect model of a union utopia that scum like Sid Ryan want Ontario to become: everything the unions demanded, the unions got, until there was nothing left over to keep the lights on and the heat running.
  6. john posted on 04/08/2014 10:50 AM
    this should be a warning shot for the liberals in this province . time for them to go away . thay are useless . just like the mayor in my town . i cant wait to get rid of her . she would be good member of the liberals .
    1. Frankie posted on 04/08/2014 11:15 AM
      @john Unfortunately the Liberal voters in Ontario are the dumbest in the country and will keep voting Liberal no matter how many billions they steal, mismanage and lie about.
  7. crystalline2007@gmail.com posted on 04/08/2014 12:34 PM
    Regardless who wins - seems like no one is talking about the aging workforce and the elderly. We talk about many things but no one is taking care of the people who take care of this generation. If we can't be gracious in taking care of those who looked after us, that's an indicator of where this society will be going. Those who have money may be ok BUT the vast majority - what will happen to them when they grow old. We can continue to be kind to them BUT we need to do more than that. We need to set aside funding to take care of them. Let those politicians put money on where their mouth is.
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