North of the border, the separatist Parti Quebecois has returned to power in Quebec after nearly a decade on the opposition benches.
PQ leader Pauline Marois will soon be sworn in Quebec’s first female Premier. Jean Charest, who had been been Premier since 2003, lost his seat in Sherbrooke. Charest has not stepped down as Quebec’s Liberal Party leader at this point. In the 1980s and 1990s, Charest was a cabinet minister in the Tory government of Brian Mulroney.
The PQ, however, will fall short of forming a majority government. The newfound center-right Coalition Avenir Quebec won 19 seats in its inaugural election. The presence of the CAQ may keep the PQ from holding another Quebec referendum in the near future. The CAQ, which proclaims itself to be neither federalist nor sovereignist, pledged there would be no referendum in Quebec for at least 10 years.
In addition to holding another referendum, the PQ pledged to implement Quebec citizenship, toughen the province’s French only language laws including a provision in which anyone running for office in Quebec be required to speak French. But with the CAQ and a still strong Liberal Party presence in the Quebec National Assembly sans Charest, the PQ may be limited in implementing its agenda – for now.
But sooner or later though there will be another Quebec referendum whether its next year or next decade. The first referendum took place in 1980 in which Quebec voters rejected independence by a 60-40 margin. However, the federalists would win the 1995 referendum by the narrowest of margins. Well, if at the first they don’t secede…
UPDATE: A source tells The Montreal Gazette that Charest will step down as Liberal Party leader later today. For all the corruption associated with the Liberals, they still won 50 seats last night as compared to 54 for the Pequistes. At this point, the Liberals probably need a fresh face to lead them.