The Quebec Liberals easily hung onto Tony Tomassi's former seat of Lafontaine in northeast Montreal in Monday's byelection, but lost Argenteuil to the Parti Québécois by 501 votes — the first time the provincial riding has slipped from the Liberals' grasp in 46 years.
In Lafontaine, Quebec Liberal party president Marc Tanguay won the seat back for the Charest government easily, with 53.32 per cent of the vote.
Opposition parties had hoped to capitalize on the controversy surrounding Tomassi, the one-time family minister who was kicked out of the Liberal caucus in May 2010 over allegations he had accepted rewards from a company that received government money.
Tomassi — who sat as an independent until resigning from his seat last month — is now facing charges of fraud and breach of trust.
However, both the Parti Québécois and François Legault's fledgling Coalition Avenir Québec straggled far behind the Liberal's Tanguay, fighting for a distant second place.
The PQ's Frédéric St-Jean garnered 17 per cent of the vote, compared to 15.58 per cent for the CAQ's Domenico Cavaliere.
A tight race in Argenteuil
In Argenteuil, the race remained too close to call most of the evening, as the lead moved back and forth between Liberal candidate Lise Proulx and her Parti Québécois opponent, Roland Richer.
Richer was declared the winner when all 180 polling stations reported at around 11 p.m., taking 36.16 per cent of the vote to Proulx's 33.40 per cent.
Former Bloc Québécois MP Mario Laframboise, running for Coalition Avenir Québec, placed a distant third, with 21.40 per cent of the vote.
The provincial leader of Quebec's Parti Vert, Claude Sabourin, took just 2.99 per cent, a fraction of a point ahead of Yvan Zanetti of Québec Solidaire.
Even when she was in the lead, early in the evening, Proulx lagged behind the percentage of the vote count her predecessor in the riding, David Whissell, received in the 2008 general election.
Whissell gave up his Argenteuil seat in December 2011, 27 months after he resigned from cabinet over a controversy about his stake in a construction firm.
Premier Jean Charest expressed little doubt Proulx would get another chance to try her hand at provincial politics.
"What I retain from this byelection race in Argenteuil is the discovery of an extraordinary woman who conducted a magnificent campaign," Charest said, Proulx at his side at her campaign headquarters in Lachute, Que. "I predict she will be the next member for the riding of Argenteuil."
Police Police use pepper spray and fight with protesters during an arrest on St. Catharines street near the Montreal Grand Prix festival area Sunday, June 10, 2012, THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
Police remove a person after holding him for 15 minutes after a brief confrontation in the Berri UQAM station early Sunday, June 10, 2012. Protesters declared they would disrupt the yellow subway line to the Montreal Grand Prix. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
A Police officer searches an F1 fan at a metro station close to the venue of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Sunday, June 10, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Police officers question a woman wearing a red square, the student protest symbol, at a metro station close to the venue of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Sunday, June 10, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Demonstrators hold a sign displaying concern about sexual exploitation during a march protesting the Canadian Grand Prix auto race in Montreal, Saturday, June 9, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe)
A line of Quebec riot police keep protesters away from Old Montreal on Saturday, June 9, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe)
A policeman guides away a protester attempting to enter the Canadian Grand Prix auto race festival area in Montreal on Saturday, June 9, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe)
Protesters advance heckle police trying to keep away from the Canadian Grand Prix auto race festival area in Montreal on Saturday, June 9, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe)
A vandalized police cars is parked at the corner of Crescent Street and St. Catherine Street in Montreal after a conflict with protesters near the Canadian Grand Prix auto race festival site Saturday, June 9, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe)