Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois win Quebec election

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois will be Quebec's next Premier.

Media outlets have called a PQ minority government.

Marois' party is leading or elected in 54 ridings, the Liberals are next with 50 seats and the Coalition Avenier Quebec are in third with 19.  The left-leaning Quebec Solidaire are currently leading in just two ridings.

While a majority government is what she coveted, Marois, Quebec's first female premier, is still poised to ruffle feathers in the rest of Canada.

"I would like to talk to our friends and neighbours in Canada," she said during her victory speech late Tuesday night.

"As a nation we want to make the decisions about the things that are important for us. We want a country.  And we will have it."

So, who is Pauline Marois - now, one of Canada's most powerful politicians?

Here is an overview:

Family Life:

Marois, 63, is a mother of four and grandmother of two who gave birth to her second child 11 days after being named to her first ministerial post in 1981.

She is married to Claude Blanchet, a Canadian financier who served as the CEO of Quebec's Union Funds.

Until recently, the two lived in a multi-million dollar estate known as  La Closerie.

Political background:

Marois was first elected to Quebec's National Assembly in 1981 as a member of René Lévesque's Parti Quebecois.

In all, Marois has held 14 different ministerial posts in her 31 years as a politician, including finance minister, health minister and deputy premier.

According to Bloomberg News, as Health Minister from 1998 to 2001, Marois engineered the retirement of 5000 healthcare workers to help the province eliminate a $5.7-billion deficit.

And as Finance Minister she was the only finance minister in 50 years to actually pay down the provincial debt.

She became the PQ's leader in 2007.

What to expect:

First-up for Marois is naming her cabinet which she is expected to do in relative short order.

During a campaign stop in Gatineau, last week, Marois said her next move would be to contact the prime minister about transferring powers to Quebec — in areas like Employment Insurance, language and communications.

"In the days that follow, in the weeks that follow, it will be a short delay, I will contact Mr. Harper," Marois told reporters according to CBC News.

With only a minority, Marois will need to rely on support of the CAQ to pass laws and hold off on the party's central goal: independence.

Quebecers can, however, expect legislation within the next year strengthening French language laws,  a secular charter which would ban all civil servants from wearing or exposing overt religious symbols and anti-corruption measures in the form of new political contribution rules.

Marois' victory will also likely calm the student unrest that has gripped the province since last Fall.  Early in the campaign, Marois promised to drop the tuition hikes, cancel the emergency protest law Bill 78 and call for a summit on university funding within 100 days of being elected.

One of the issues, that will require Marois' immediate attention is Quebec's economy.

According to the Canadian Press, Quebec's gross debt is at $184 billion or 55.5 per cent of GDP.  That's more than a dozen percentage points higher than the next most-indebted province, Ontario.

While 'the economy' wasn't a focus of the campaign it will have to become one during Marois' term in office.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail last week, Marois predicted another election within a year if she won a minority.