The Parti Québécois lost a crucial race Monday night, as the CAQ’s Shirley Dorismond was declared the winner of a byelection in Longueuil’s Marie-Victorin riding.
With all polls reporting, Dorismond had a lead of 795 votes over Pierre Nantel, the Parti Québécois candidate.
Results as of 10:48 p.m. (146/146 polls reporting):
- Shirley Dorismond (Coalition Avenir Québec): 5,697 (35%)
- Pierre Nantel (Parti Québécois): 4,902 (30%)
- Shophika Vaithyanathasarma (Québec solidaire): 2,316 (14%)
- Anne Casabonne (Conservative Party of Quebec): 1,696 (10%)
- Émilie Nollet (Quebec Liberal Party): 1,130 (7%)
- Martine Ouellet (Climat Québec): 310 (2%)
- Alex Tyrrell (Green Party of Quebec): 142 (0.9%)
- Shawn Lalande McLean (Parti Accès propriété et équité): 42 (0.3%)
- Michel Blondin (Parti pour l’indépendance du Québec): 21 (0.1%)
- Philippe Tessier (independent): 17 (0.1%)
- Michel Lebrun (Union Nationale): 17 (0.1%)
- Florent Portron (Équipe Autonomiste): 11 (0.07%)
- Rejected ballots: 118 (1.14%)
- Total votes (including rejected): 16,489
- Registered electors: 45,636
- Turnout: 36.13%
A former nurse and vice-president of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec nurses union, Dorismond said she will fight for major reforms to the health-care network.
“I want to be an agent of change,” Dorismond told the Montreal Gazette during the campaign. “We want to improve the health system and I want to help the elderly to do more and better, with health-care services delivered at home.”
The election to fill this vacant seat was being seen by many as a gauge on the health of the PQ, and its hopes for a resurgence before this fall’s general election.
At a gathering for PQ faithful, at the St-Hubert restaurant in Place Longueuil, an electric crowd crew more and more quiet over the course of the night. By the time Dorismond was declared winner over candidate Pierre Nantel by news media outlets, many were crying, hugging, and trying to temper their disappointment with the hope that the results will be better in the general election in October.
Speaking to party faithful, PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said they should hold their heads high, as observers had all given the PQ no chance to win several months ago. He announced that Nantel will be the party’s candidate in the general election.
Nantel said the tight race showed that the PQ is primed for better results in October.
“We are very proud that we were able to show that the PQ is the real alternative to the CAQ in Quebec,” Nantel told party faithful.
The importance of the results were not lost on volunteer Phoeby Laplante, who volunteered during the election, and is a candidate in the upcoming general election in the Montreal riding of Sainte-Marie—Saint-Jacques.
“Even if we lose, we have hope,” Laplante said. “We will not give up, because our battle is very important. We have to continue. Even in defeat, we will advance.”
Volunteer Nicole Morin spent much of the campaign working the phones to get the word out. She said she’s proud of how the PQ equated itself.
“I’m very disappointed,” Morin said with teary eyes. “It was a campaign that was led with lots of heart, honesty and transparence, which the CAQ doesn’t have.”
Morin said she was disappointed with the low turnout of 36 per cent, saying with such small numbers the party that wins doesn’t truly represent the population.
Since it was formed in 1981, the PQ has won all but one of the provincial elections held in this riding located at the foot of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Leading up to Monday’s vote, the riding was being seen as a key indicator of the fortunes of the sovereignist party. Its former MNA, Catherine Fournier, left the party in 2019, saying it was no longer relevant after the PQ had sunk to fourth place in seats. Fournier sat as an independent until the municipal election in November, when she was elected mayor of Longueuil.
Before the 2018 election that brought the CAQ to power, the PQ was the official opposition.
Still sinking in the polls, the PQ was pinning its hopes of a comeback on success in Marie-Victorin. The byelection was also being billed as a warm-up for other political parties for the fall general election.
“For the PQ, it’s essential to win,” said Daniel Béland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada told the Montreal Gazette during the campaign. “If they lose, it will confirm the dominant narrative about them — that the party is really declining and on life support and facing possible extinction. If they win, it will give them some hope for the fall election that they won’t be decimated.”
The pressure was also on the CAQ, Béland said, because this could be seen as a referendum on Premier François Legault’s leadership.
Dorismond said during the campaign she won’t be satisfied with business as usual if she is elected.
Outspoken in the past for how she opposed Legault’s denial of the existence of systemic racism, Dorismond said during the campaign she doesn’t want to “get into a debate about semantics.”
“We have to have another approach and fight against racism by focusing on inclusion,” she said.