Quebec Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard will be in the National Assembly when it resumes sitting on Feb. 11 after winning the Dec. 9 byelection in Outremont.
Couillard received more than 55% of the vote in the traditionally Liberal riding.
The Outremont seat became vacant when Raymond Bachand resigned a few months after running unsuccessfully against Couillard for the Liberal leadership.
Greeted by roughly 200 supporters, Couillard addressed both his victory and his concerns with the Parti Québécois government.
“The picture is sadly simple,” he said. “The PQ government destroyed our economy because of their own actions or lack of actions. They should stop blaming everyone, take responsibility and admit their failures.”
According to Couillard, the current government has divided Quebec like never before and winning the byelection was only the first step in what he knows will be a long fight ahead.
“This shows that in Quebec, all dreams are possible,” he said. “But it takes a few ingredients. It takes courage, it takes effort and it takes luck.”
The night’s results were far from suspenseful, as the race was considered over by as early as 8:30 p.m. The PQ and Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) did not run candidates in the riding, allowing the Liberal leader to have an easier path into the National Assembly.
As for the next general election expected in the spring, Couillard intends to run in his home riding of Roberval.
Regarding how he’ll represent his party in the National Assembly, he said he will be firm on ideas, policies, rights, freedoms and where the party stands on the economy.
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The Liberals also won the by-election in Viau, where David Heurtel emerged with nearly 60% of the vote.
Together, the two wins give the party 50 members in the National Assembly, four fewer than the PQ.
Other parties finish far behind Québec Solidaire, Option Nationale and the Green Party of Quebec were the runner-ups on the night.
Edith Laperle came in second with 32% of the vote for Québec Solidaire.
Option Nationale’s Julie Surprenant came in third with just under 7% of the vote while Green Party of Quebec leader Alex Tyrrell garnered nearly 4%, failing to gain what would have been the party’s first seat in the National Assembly.
“Even without a seat there are a lot of things we can do to represent our point of view and those of the people who supported us,” said Tyrrell.
The 25-year-old was elected leader in September, becoming the youngest party leader in the province. He said it was challenging to run both the party and a campaign as a candidate while still getting accustomed to his new position.
Voter turnout in Outremont was a meager 26.42% compared to 68% in the 2012 general election.
“It’s becoming more and more of a problem. I think people are finding politics less and less relevant mainly because the three main parties have such similar ideologies,” Tyrrell said.
“It’s up to all of us as politicians to make things more interesting for the next election,” he added.
Photo : Michaël Monnier