CAQ crushes Liberals in Quebec City byelection, reinforcing party's dominance

The Coalition Avenir Quebec easily won the Quebec City byelection in Jean-Talon Monday night, taking a riding whose electorate had steadily voted Liberal since 1966.

Former political staffer Joelle Boutin, 40, won for the governing CAQ, beating out the Liberals' Gertrude Bourdon, an ex-hospital administrator who had tried and failed in the 2018 general election to win a neighbouring riding for the same party.

Monday's results indicate Francois Legault's CAQ remains a dominant political force in the province, following the party's 2018 crushing victory after almost 15 years of Liberal rule.

The results also reinforce the Liberals' decline among francophone voters outside Montreal.

With 111 of 158 polling stations reporting as of 9:30 p.m. Monday night, Boutin had a comfortable 41 per cent of the vote, with the Liberals a distant second at 23 per cent.

The left-wing Quebec solidaire party came in third with 21 per cent, not far off from their 2018 total of 19 per cent.

Liberal Sebastien Proulx's resignation earlier this year triggered the byelection.

In 2018, Proulx, once touted as a possible leadership candidate for his party, won by four percentage points over Boutin and had been the Liberal's only member east of Montreal.

For the Liberal Party, it was a loss felt beyond the borders of the riding: the Liberals are now all but absent from practically all regions of Quebec, except for the Greater Montreal Area and in Outaouais.

Jean-Talon was the party's last riding East of Montreal.

During the election campaign, the race drew attention because it was unclear if the CAQ would be able to capture the riding, which has been represented in the National Assembly by a Liberal since it was created in 1966.

Until recently, Monday's result would have been unthinkable in the Liberal stronghold: Quebec Solidaire nearly equalled the Liberal performance with 20 per cent of the vote.

The Parti-Quebecois garnered 9 per cent of the vote.

Boutin said her win was an endorsement of the CAQ. Voters in Jean-Talon had gotten to know the party, she said following her victory.

The Legault government is enjoying a healthy approval rating of 60 per cent.

The Liberal party was aware of the threat the CAQ posed. Volunteers for the party tirelessly canvassed the riding from the start of the campaign to the end.

The seats in the National Assembly are now distributed as follows: 76 for the CAQ, 28 for the PLQ, 10 for QS, 9 for the PQ and 2 independents. 

Bravo à la nouvelle députée de Jean-Talon, @joelleboutin !
Résultats préliminaires:
CAQ 43%
PLQ 24%
QS 18%
PQ 9% pic.twitter.com/bSAVJ0PtyV

— François Legault (@francoislegault) December 3, 2019

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2019