CAQ rolls to resounding majority

Quebec will have a new government, and it will be led by François Legault and the Coalition Avenir Québec.

The seven-year-old CAQ stormed to a majority government on Monday, and in doing so, shattered nearly a half-century of two-party political rule in Quebec with a majority government that will redraw the province's electoral map. And François Legault, the 61-year-old businessman and founder of Air Transat, will be sworn in shortly as the 32nd premier of Quebec.

The CAQ was elected or leading in 74 of the province's 125 ridings— as of 11:15 p.m. Monday night.

"Today we have marked history. Today there are many Quebecers who have put aside a debate that has divided us for 50 years. Today there are many Quebecers who have demonstrated that we can work together," said Legault. "We were able to gather and it's in the spirit of gathering that I have the intent to govern for all Quebecers. I invite all men and women of goodwill to join us, to put their shoulder to the wheel to do more for all Quebecers. Today Quebecers have chosen hope.

"I can guarantee that we will give our all to answer this hope. We will do it for families, for children, for the elders who built modern Quebec. We will do it also for our regions," said Legault.

Legault addressed the crowd for a brief moment in English, dismissing the notion of Quebec's independence. "Let's start working together now for the benefits of all Quebecers! Let's work together to make Quebec stronger within Canada, and I want to assure you that my government will be your government," said Legault.

Couillard 'reflecting' on his future after defeat

The Liberals managed to win 32 seats, including most of their strongholds on the island of Montreal. Outgoing premier Philippe Couillard held on to his eastern Quebec seat of Roberval, but will he stay on as Leader of the Opposition for the next four years? We might know the answer to that question in a few days — he says he'll be "reflecting" on his future, and that "reflection" will likely not take more than a few days.

During his concession speech, Couillard touted his accomplishments, particularly with the economy.

"I leave Quebec, believe me, in better shape than I found it in 2014,'' he said.

Solidaires break out of Montreal

Québec Solidaire broke out of Montreal's centre and won 10 seats, including two in Quebec City and the riding of Sherbrooke — once Jean Charest's longtime stronghold — and even in the riding of Rouyn-Noranda-Temiscamingue, where Émilise Lessard-Therrien pulled off an unlikely upset. Luc Blanchette, the Liberal minister responsible for forests, parks and the Abitibi region, finished a distant fourth.

"Today, our movement is bigger, stronger, more resolute than ever,'' said a jubilant Manon Massé, one of the party's co-spokespeople, along with Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. "Quebec Solidaire is not the party of Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. Québec Solidaire is the party of the people who want things to change for real.''

The party appeared to strike a chord with voters between 18 and 34, and hoped increased visibility and rising poll numbers would pay off Monday night. Massé said Sunday any gains in seats would be considered a success in shaking up the status quo.

In an election that largely focused on immigration and cultural identity, Quebec Solidaire was the only party to campaign on independence, but only as a way to make Quebec free of what Massé called the "petro-state known as Canada.''

Its campaign pledges included free education all the way from elementary school to doctoral studies, and a ban on the sale of all non-hybrid or gasoline-fuelled vehicles by 2030.

PQ slide to fourth place; Lisée quits

The once-mighty Parti Québécois managed to hold on to 9 seats — though leader Jean-François Lisée's wasn't one of them. He lost his seat in Rosemont, a longtime PQ stronghold, and later announced he was quitting the leadership of the PQ.

But as he announced his departure from the head of a party in tatters, Lisée insisted the PQ remains vital to the province. He said it is needed to fight battles for justice, the environment, secularism and the French language.

"As long as Quebec is not a country, Quebec will need the Parti Québécois,'' he added.

Worst popular vote score for Liberals...ever

With support for independence sliding, the PQ is now facing an existential crisis. The party has steadily watched its backing slide after spending about 20 of the last 48 years in office.

To be considered an official party, the PQ needed either 20 per cent of the popular vote on Monday or 12 seats. With about 17 per cent and 9 seats, it looked as though it would get neither.

The CAQ took 37.5 per cent of the popular vote — much better than pollsters had been suggesting in the final week of the campaign. The Liberals took 24.7 per cent of the vote, which represents the worst popular vote showing in the 151-year history of the party. Their previous low was the 31.2 per cent they earned in 2012.

The PQ managed to win 17.1 per cent — the worst popular vote showing in their history. QS took 16.1 per cent.