Quebec Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade resigns for 'good of the party'

MONTREAL — Dominique Anglade, the first Black woman to lead a major Quebec political party, resigned as Liberal leader on Monday, five weeks after her party suffered a crushing defeat in the provincial election.

Anglade told reporters in Montreal she will also step down as member for the Montreal riding of St-Henri–Ste-Anne, effective Dec. 1, opening the door to a byelection that will be hotly contested by the left-wing Québec solidaire.

Her leadership had been under pressure since the party elected just 21 members in the Oct. 3 election — down from 31 in the 2018 vote.

"Having in mind the interests of Quebec and the good of the party, I have informed the party president of my resignation as the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party," Anglade said.

The party maintained official Opposition status but saw its share of the popular vote drop to less than 15 per cent in last month's election, receiving fewer votes than Québec solidaire and the Parti Québécois. In recent weeks, current and past members of the Liberals had — mostly anonymously — questioned her authority and said she had lost the confidence of members.

Speaking to the internal conflict in the party, Anglade said Monday that the issues facing Quebecers — regarding demographics, culture, the economy and the environment — "are too important for the official Opposition to be torn up." She said the party is in need of renewal, "and we don't have the luxury of being undermined by internal intrigues."

Anglade, 48, had faced the difficult task of rebuilding a party tainted by corruption scandals of past Liberal governments. She also strove to hold onto the party's base — English speakers in the Montreal area and immigrants — while appealing to the francophone majority that had largely abandoned her party.

The tension within the Liberals erupted shortly after the election, when Anglade ejected Marie-Claude Nichols from caucus after a disagreement over shadow cabinet roles. Anglade reversed position, but Nichols refused to return and said the Liberal leader was unable to properly lead the party.

Anglade was acclaimed Liberal leader in 2020. She was first elected in the riding of St-Henri–Ste-Anne in November 2015 and served as economy minister in the cabinet of Philippe Couillard. She was re-elected in 2018 and 2022.

Before joining the Liberals, Anglade was briefly president of the Coalition Avenir Québec, the party of Premier François Legault, but she quit the CAQ in 2013.

Anglade is married with three children and is the daughter of Haitian immigrants. In 2010, several family members — including her parents — were killed in an earthquake that devastated Haiti.

In the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, Anglade rose in the legislature and told the story about how she hadn't heard any news of her parents until her sister called a day after the natural disaster.

“She couldn’t tell me who was dead; she could only say who had survived,” Anglade said at the time. “She told me, this person survived or that person survived. So I asked, ‘Mom and Dad?’ That’s when I realized I’d lost everything at once: my father, my mother, my uncle and my cousin."

On Monday, she invoked her parents, describing how they brought her up under certain values: "of inclusion, respect and equality of chances."

"I will always see big things for Quebec — for Quebec to take its place in Canada and in the world. A Quebec that is capable of defending its language and culture by including all Quebecers."

Legault on Monday tweeted his thanks for Anglade's public service. "I want to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of (Anglade) to Quebec. It takes courage to get into politics. It takes determination to be in politics. It takes humility to leave. Thank you Dominique!"

Québec solidaire spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said Monday that Anglade brought "sincerity and dignity to our debates in the legislature." It will be Nadeau-Dubois's party that will likely be the Liberals' strongest competition in the byelection that must be called by June 1, 2023, to replace Anglade.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2022.

— With files from Jocelyne Richer in Quebec City

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press