Dominique Anglade is stepping down as the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party.
Anglade announced her decision at a news conference in Montreal this morning. Her departure comes a little more than a month after the Quebec provincial election.
The Quebec Liberal Party hung on to its Official Opposition status at the National Assembly despite a shaky campaign at the end of which the party secured a little under 15 per cent of the popular vote — the lowest vote share in its history.
The Liberals held on to most of their strongholds on the island of Montreal but were shunned by a large majority of francophone voters.
The party won 21 seats but is down to 20 MNAs after Marie-Claude Nichols, who represents the Montreal-area riding of Vaudreuil, was kicked out of caucus, which further contributed to speculation about Anglade's future as Liberal leader.
On Monday, Anglade acknowledged her party was in turmoil and said she is quitting "in the interests of Quebec and for the good of the party."
"Our party is confronted by numerous challenges. It has to continue its work because we have the large task of reconnecting with francophones and every region in Quebec all while staying true to our values," Anglade said.
"The demographic, cultural, socio-economic and ecological issues are too important to have an Official Opposition that's torn."
WATCH | Anglade explains why she resigned as leader of the PLQ:
Anglade took on the role in May 2020, becoming the first Black woman to ever lead a Quebec political party.
She arrived a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, after her only rival in the leadership race withdrew his candidacy.
Anglade took over from Philippe Couillard, who was Quebec's premier from 2014 to 2018, before suffering a devastating defeat at the hands of François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec party.
The 2018 election is widely viewed as a turning point in Quebec politics, one that signalled the end of the traditional debate about federalism and sovereignty in the province. Many experts have said that the Liberals, under Anglade, have failed to reposition themselves in this new political landscape.
Anglade is also stepping down as the MNA for the Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne riding in Montreal's southwest, where she was first elected in 2015. She will keep that role until Dec. 1.
In a tweet, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante commended Anglade for dedicating several years of her life to Quebec and thanked her for being an inspiration to women.
"Through her work and her involvement, she showed women that it was possible to aspire to the highest political office," Plante said.
The Liberals are now in need of an interim leader with about three weeks remaining before the National Assembly resumes activities on Nov. 29.
'Only decision that was available to her'
David Birnbaum, the former MNA for the D'Arcy-McGee riding, who did not run for re-election this fall and was one of the few who defended Anglade publicly, said he was saddened but not surprised by her decision.
"I'm proud of her as our [leader], I was proud to serve with her, and I'm a little less proud of some of my former Liberal colleagues who made it impossible for her to continue," he said.
Despite some errors made in the lead-up and during the election, Birnbaum said, Anglade ran a courageous campaign and was a responsible and effective opposition leader.
"I think [she] deserved the right to decide on her own future and many in her Liberal party made that impossible and she's now made the gracious and responsible and only decision that was available to her."
Birnbaum said the Liberal party must now be renewed while not losing sight of its "unique and fundamental values" with respect to federalism, English-speaking Quebecers' futures and linking economic success with environmental responsibility.
"Those are tough jobs and it's not a quick leadership campaign that's going to make those things happen," he said. "There's a lot of work ahead of us."
Following Anglade's announcement, several members of the Liberal caucus took to social media to highlight her contributions to Quebec and to commend her character.
"You are a woman of heart, of conviction, deeply invested in a sense of public service and a true desire to offer equal opportunities to all Quebecers," said Liberal House Leader André Fortin in a tweet.
Marc Tanguay, the Quebec Liberal MNA for the district of LaFontaine, thanked Anglade for her years of public service.
"She has contributed to the economic development of Quebec, while being an example of success for all Quebec women," he tweeted.
"Thank you dear Dominique! It was a privilege to work with you."
Party leaders say goodbye
"I want to highlight Dominique Anglade's commitment and dedication to Quebec," Premier François Legault tweeted. "It takes courage to go into politics. It takes determination to be in politics. It takes humility to quit politics. Thank you Dominique!"
In a statement, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the co-spokesperson for Québec Solidaire, said Anglade brought sincerity and dignity to political debates.
"I will remember her commitment to feminism and her sincere concerns about mental health," Nadeau-Dubois said.
Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon also took to Twitter to salute Anglade's commitment and dedication.
"Regardless of our differences, she has shown resilience and a complete commitment to politics and to her party," he said.
"I wish her the best in her future endeavours."