Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press The elected candidate of the Parti Québécois in Jean-Talon, Pascal Paradis, and the leader of the sovereignist party, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, savored their victory on Monday.
Alexandre Robillard and François Carabin in Quebec
October 2, 2023
The Parti Québécois (PQ) dealt a hard blow to the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) in wresting the riding of Jean-Talon from him on Monday during a by-election which followed the government's retreat on the third motorway link project.
At the time of writing, the PQ candidate, Pascal Paradis, was in the lead with 44.00% of the votes. His CAQ opponent, Marie-Anik Shoiry, followed far behind, with 21.46% of the vote.
Prime Minister François Legault appeared to take note of the defeat in front of his troops. “Obviously I’m sad, and we’re all sad, especially when we think of Marie-Anik […] You didn’t lose, it’s the CAQ and I who lost,” he said, promising to “learn lessons” from this election.
Monday's by-election was the CAQ's first test before the electorate since its retreat on the project of a third highway link between Quebec and Lévis. In May, the government announced that the tunnel project would now be dedicated to public transportation.
Located in Quebec, the riding of Jean-Talon brings together the boroughs of Sainte-Foy and Sillery, which are located near the Quebec and Pierre-Laporte bridges.
Mr. Legault affirmed that his party must regain the trust of the population of the capital.
“The people of Jean-Talon were the spokespersons for all the citizens of the Quebec region to tell us: “You need to examine your conscience.” This is what we will do in the coming months, rebuild this bond of trust with the people of Quebec. »
A clear trend
As soon as the first ballots were counted, the PQ took the lead, and this lead was maintained. A few minutes before the unveiling of the first results, the concern was palpable in the room of the Center des glaces de Québec, in Sainte-Foy, where ministers, deputies and CAQ activists were gathered.
The media had not yet concluded that the PQ had won, but the conclusion was already clear among certain CAQ members. Among the PQ too.
“The Parti Québécois is back”
In his speech to activists delivered shortly after the officialization of the results, the PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, was enthusiastic about the strong return of his party on the political scene. “Tonight, the Parti Québécois is back in Quebec. The Parti Québécois is back in Quebec,” he said. “We have demonstrated beyond any doubt that the Coalition Avenir Québec is no longer invincible. »
The PQ leader sees Monday's result as “a pat on the back”, an “encouragement” which concretizes the polls of recent months. “Obviously the most interesting thing is in front of us,” he said.
Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Parti Québécois activists react after the announcement of the election of PQ candidate Pascal Paradis in the riding of Jean-Talon.
In the following minutes, the designated deputy Pascal Paradis, who had been greeted all evening with “Pascal, Pascal, Pascal! » from the crowd of PQ activists, reserved part of his speech for his CAQ adversaries. “Tonight, the people of Sainte-Foy and Sillery are sending a message to the government about its way of doing things. They decided to send, for the first time in the history of the Jean-Talon riding, a member of the Parti Québécois to the National Assembly. »
With this victory, the PQ regains a foothold in the Quebec region, from where it has been absent since 2018, after the departure of Agnès Maltais in Taschereau.
Mr. Paradis, a lawyer, is the first PQ MP elected in the riding of Jean-Talon, a strong liberal castle that the CAQ won in a by-election in 2019.
After finishing in second place in the 2022 general elections, Québec solidaire took third place, with 17.42% of the votes, less than the 23.8% collected last year. His candidate, Olivier Bolduc, was making his third attempt to get elected in Jean-Talon.
The Liberal Party of Quebec was still in fourth place, like a year ago, but its score, of 8.87%, was poised to be lower than that obtained 12 months ago, which was 13.5%.
The Conservative Party of Quebec also suffered a setback. Jesse Robitaille collected 6.06%, while the party had obtained 10% of the votes a year ago.
The Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital Affairs, Éric Caire, affirmed that he would not The PQ's breakthrough should not be seen as a threat to the CAQ in the Quebec region.
“No, it would be panic. And tonight, there is no need to panic. There are still 89 deputies from the Coalition Avenir Québec, we are still forming the government, there are three years of mandate remaining. »
According to Mr. Caire, this victory of the PQ is a source of questions for all his adversaries, including the PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
“We will agree that Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon wasn't necessarily on the radar in recent months. Now he will have to answer more specific questions, including where his year 1 budget is,” he said.
Mr. Caire affirmed that there is no appetite in Quebec for sovereignty.
Shortly after the announcement of Pascal Paradis' victory, surprise could be seen on the faces of the PQ organizers. Those that Le Devoir interviewed all expressed their bewilderment at the difference in the vote in a historically liberal and CAQ constituency.
First passes of arms
Hostilities began in August even before the start of the campaign and the official announcement of all the candidates.
The PQ first circulated a poll placing it neck and neck with the CAQ.
The CAQ then responded by revealing that the prospective PQ candidate, Pascal Paradis, considered running the CAQ colors in the last general election.
According to the CAQ, the project did not succeed because Mr. Paradis demanded the guarantee of being a minister, which the main party concerned denied.
The PQ candidate, for his part, affirmed that the decline on the third link had been in the discussions he had in the spring of 2022, in particular with Mr. Legault's chief of staff, Martin Koskinen.
Faced with these allegations, Mr. Legault had to defend his honesty. He assured that there was never any question of abandoning the promise of the third motorway link a year before it came to fruition, contrary to what Mr. Paradis put forward.
In this period of inflation, the opposition parties followed the government from the start, accusing it of not doing enough to help the population absorb the shock of the rising cost of living.
The PQ has chosen to once again postpone the disclosure of the update of the budget of a sovereign Quebec.
The PQ justified this decision by affirming that they preferred to mobilize their resources on the by-election.
The PQ opted for a campaign mainly focused on the cost of living and mobility. In a press scrum shortly after his speech, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon affirmed that local voters had a “neither negative nor positive” vision of independence.
“They know very well that we is independentist. And what they told us on this subject was: “we will read you when you submit your budget, we will listen to you.” It was neither an obstacle nor a determinant of our vote,” he analyzed.
The by-election in Jean-Talon will set the tone for the National Assembly