Quebec Liberals steal back longtime ADQ riding
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, June 22, 2009 10:50PM EDT
MONTREAL - Premier Jean Charest's governing Liberals won two byelections Monday, reclaiming one riding after more than 14 years of Action democratique du Quebec domination while steamrolling the opposition to easily preserve a Grit bastion in Montreal.
Jean D'Amour's victory in Riviere-du-Loup was doubly sweet for Charest -- not only did the Liberals return from the wilderness after five consecutive victories by ex-ADQ leader Mario Dumont, but they also stuffed high-profile Parti Quebecois candidate Paul Crete.
With virtually all polls reporting, D'Amour had more than 45 per cent of the vote, about 10 percentage points ahead of Crete, a Bloc Quebecois MP in the area between 1993 and his jump to provincial politics earlier this year.
Gilberte Cote, a former aide to Dumont, was trounced, lagging far behind her more established rivals in a performance that may put a chill in ADQ supporters throughout the province.
To put things in perspective, ADQ support plunged to about 15 per cent from nearly 52 per cent just six months ago under the immensely popular Dumont, who quit politics a few months ago.
The Liberals also cantered to victory in the Montreal riding of Marguerite-Bourgeoys.
Standings in the 125-seat legislature after the byelections are: Liberals, 67; PQ, 51; ADQ, six; and Quebec solidaire, one.
Charest, whose government eked out a narrow majority in last December's election, was ebullient after the sweep.
"I want a strong economic voice in Riviere-du-Loup," Charest told supporters in Marguerite-Bourgeoys, which Clement Gignac won with more than 70 per cent of the vote.
"And with Jean D'Amour, what I want, what we want, is a strong voice for the outlying regions in the national assembly."
D'Amour, the Liberal party president, probably wasn't hurt by his high profile in the riding northeast of Quebec City. He was mayor of the town of Riviere-du-Loup between 1999 and 2007.
Gignac's victory was never in doubt. He even increased the Liberal share of the vote from the 66 per cent recorded by then-finance minister Monique Jerome-Forget in December.
A former chief economist with National Bank, Gignac has been touted as cabinet material in a shuffle that might come as early as Tuesday morning.
Charest was certainly talking him up on Monday night.
"He is man of talent, genius and intuition and he has shown he is one of the best economists in Canada," Charest said of one of his two newest recruits.
"And he has come to serve Quebec at a time when we need him. I asked Clement to serve his fellow citizens because employment and the economy are the main issues.
"I want Clement Gignac to be part of my team so we can help Quebec rebound and build Quebec's future."