10/19/2015 22:56 EDT | Updated 10/19/2016 01:12 EDT

Liberal Melanie Joly trounces NDP's Maria Mourani in Montreal riding

MONTREAL — One of the most highly anticipated contests in Quebec on Monday turned into a rout.

The Liberals' Melanie Joly strolled to victory in Ahuntsic-Cartierville against the NDP's Maria Mourani, a former Bloc Quebecois MP who had held the Montreal riding since 2006.

Joly, who was on the way to capturing more than 50 per cent of the popular vote, surged into the public spotlight two years ago when she finished second in the Montreal mayoral race behind Denis Coderre.

She overcame some minor controversy along the way this year.

In June, some of her rivals for the nomination speculated the party was delaying the date for the nomination meeting to allow Joly, a close friend of Leader Justin Trudeau, to sign up more members. Her eventual victory was appealed by one of the other candidates but was eventually upheld.

Then she was criticized after it was discovered she had given a $250 donation to a Conservative candidate in 2011. Joly, 36, said she made the donation because the candidate was a member of her business circle.

The defeat was a massive blow for Mourani, who had held the riding since 2006.

Mourani had been sitting as an independent MP since 2013 after being kicked out of the Bloc for her outspoken criticism of the Parti Quebecois' proposed secularism charter.

She renounced her separatist roots soon after leaving the Bloc and joined the NDP in 2014.

The Canadian Press