Above: Quebec's new Premier, Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard. Photo courtesy of the Quebec Liberal Party
Characterized by many political pundits as one of the dirtiest provincial election campaigns in recent history, yesterday's 2014 Quebec election results spelled things out rather clearly: don't divide Quebecers. A Quebecer is a Quebecer is a Quebecer, regardless of religion and what language was first learned as an infant.
The federalist, pro-Canada Liberal Party won a majority government last night, earning 70 of the Quebec National Assembly's 125 seats, with former neurosurgeon and current Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard earning the title of Quebec Prime Minister.
Former minority government party the Parti Québécois earned 30 seats, 24 down from the 2012 election which had granted them 54 seats. The Coalition Avenir Québec scored 22 seats, a three-seat gain compared to their 2012 election results. Polls had predicted much smaller numbers for the Coalition, believed to have ultimately split the Parti Québécois vote. Finally, Québec Solidaire scooped up three seats, a modest though significant increase from its two-seat win in 2012.
For the record, both the Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire conspicuously included Quebec's separation from Canada as chief platform goals. Meanwhile, Coalition Avenir Québec, while founded and helmed by former Parti Québécois minister François Legault, insisted it was not interested in pursuing Quebec independence, though some voters ostensibly welcomed that position with caution bordering on skepticism, opting instead for a party with no ties to sovereignty, be they past or present.
In many cases a vote for the Liberal Party wasn't so much a vote of support as it was a vote AGAINST separation and talk of sovereignty. There is a veritable wave of fatigue gripping the province emanating from citizens who have downright had it with language and identity politics insinuating some Quebecers are more equal than others, identity politics that inspire exclusion, hate and mindless scapegoating, with a majority of voting constituents demanding government priorities be directed at rebuilding Quebec's economy, healthcare system and international reputation with zero energy dedicated to hidden or overt agendas set on creating "winning conditions" for separation from Canada.
A common sentiment expressed among political experts was that the 2014 Quebec election was the dirtiest one they recalled, with divisive wedge politics a center stage strategy employed by the Parti Québécois, who've arguably experienced one of the harshest voter backlashes in the party's history. Even Parti Québécois leader and now former Quebec Premier Pauline Marois lost her seat, subsequently stepping down from political life after nearly 35 years in the game.
For those unfamiliar with Quebec politics and what all this religion and language division talk is about, this analysis by CBC's Michelle Gagnon should offer some insight.