POLITICS

Quebec Liberals, PQ Hold On To Ridings In Byelections

11/09/2015 09:54 EST | Updated 11/09/2015 10:59 EST
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Philippe Couillard, Quebec's premier, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Quebec's April election brought Couillard's Liberal Party to power with promises to cut spending, increase taxes and impose a hiring freeze to eliminate a C$3.1 billion deficit by next year. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

MONTREAL — It was status quo as the governing Liberals and the Parti Quebecois all hung on to their respective ridings in four provincial byelections Monday in Quebec.

There were no major surprises as Philippe Couillard's Liberals retained the three ridings they had going in - Beauce-Sud, Fabre and a hard fought win in Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne.

Meanwhile, the PQ won handily in the northeastern Quebec riding of Rene-Levesque, a stronghold for the party.

The byelections were to replace three Liberal members of the legislature who stepped down in recent months - Robert Dutil, Gilles Ouimet and Marguerite Blais.

Replacing them in Beauce, Fabre and Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne are Paul Busque, Monique Sauve and Dominique Anglade respectively.

"What a great night for the Liberal Party Quebec - three nice victories and a strong fight," Couillard told a partisan crowd at Anglade's Montreal event.

Anglade, former president of the opposition Coalition for Quebec's Future as well as a failed candidate for that party in 2012, won thanks in part to a split vote between the two sovereigntist parties, who combined captured about 50 per cent of the vote.

Blais won the seat in 2012 with just over 51 per cent of the vote, but Anglade's victory was far closer as she ended up winning with about 39 per cent of the vote.

That put her ahead of the PQ's Gabrielle Lemieux at just under 30 per cent and Quebec Solidaire's Marie-Eve Rancourt at about 20 per cent.

Busque won easily in Beauce-Sud, south of Quebec City, capturing 55 per cent of the votes cast in beating the Coalition candidate.

In the Laval riding of Fabre, Sauve won with about 43 per cent of the vote, beating out the PQ candidate.

The PQ added Martin Ouellet, who won with more than 48 per cent of the vote and retained a seat held by Marjolain Dufour, who retired in September for health reasons.

Couillard had to brush off criticism from the opposition parties for calling the byelections in the middle of the federal election campaign.

They complained voters would be confused with multiple signs littering the four ridings, but the premier replied that Quebecers were smart enough to make the distinction.

The premier also said he wanted the byelections held before the Liberal's general council meeting next weekend.

The Liberal now have 71 seats, compared to 29 for the PQ, 20 for the Coalition for Quebec's Future and three seats for Quebec Solidaire.

There is one independent and one seat is vacant in the legislature, with the departure of former PQ interim leader Stephane Bedard in October.

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