The Parti Québécois (PQ) has won the byelection in the Quebec City riding of Jean-Talon, giving a boost to its tiny caucus and sending a signal to the CAQ government that it cannot take the Quebec City area for granted.
PQ candidate Pascal Paradis hugged supporters and party leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon as they reacted to the news of the projected win.
In the end, Paradis received 44 per cent of the vote. Marie-Anik Shoiry of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), finished in second place with 21 per cent of the vote. Québec Solidaire (QS) candidate Olivier Bolduc, came third with about 18 per cent of the vote and Liberal Élise Avard Bernier was a distant fourth in the election with less than nine per cent of the vote.
Voter turnout was about 55 per cent.
The byelection will not affect the balance of power in the National Assembly, as the CAQ currently has a strong majority of seats — but it is significant for the PQ.
Paradis, who was until recently the executive director of Lawyers without Borders Canada, will be the fourth PQ MNA, joining St-Pierre-Plamondon, Joël Arseneau and Pascal Bérubé.
PQ supporters celebrate at a Jean-Talon restaurant as their party pulls ahead in the byelection results. (Alexandra Duval/Radio-Canada)
Cost of living, top of mind for MNA
Speaking with CBC's Quebec AM the morning after his win, Paradis said he is grateful.
"It's a great day for the PQ, it's a great day for Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, it's a great day for me too," said Paradis.
He says the riding has changed a lot over the past few years and that he met thousands of voters during the campaign and connected with new demographics, including immigrants. He says their support during the byelection was a signal that "things must change."
"The plan is really to work on the issues we've been told about throughout the campaign.There is a real crisis here with the cost of life," said Paradis.
"Young children are coming to school with an empty stomach, this is totally unacceptable. People do not find affordable lodging here in Jean-Talon. So these are the issues we'll be working on, starting today."
LISTEN | Pascal Paradis says he's 'grateful' to be 4th PQ MNA:
'The Parti Québécois is back in Quebec City'
Gathered at Restaurant Normandin Place de la Cité with supporters on Monday night, the PQ MNA for Matane-Matapédia, Pascal Bérubé, called the results "an exceptional victory."
St-Pierre Plamondon addressed the crowd saying the CAQ is "no longer invincible."
"We thought we had a good chance of winning this one, we knew that it was very significant because it would move us to four elected members, which really is a difference," said St-Pierre Plamondon.
Still, he said the party never expected such a "decisive victory." Paradis took the lead from the start and never lost ground, as the votes were counted.
"We've clearly demonstrated to Quebecers that the CAQ can be defeated and the only one party that can do it is the Parti Québécois," said St-Pierre-Plamondon.
"We can say it with a great deal of humility and enthusiasm: Tonight the Parti Québécois is back in Quebec City."
Premier François Legault conceded the CAQ's defeat in the byelection of Jean-Talon. His party's candidate, Marie-Anik Shoiry, left, finished a distant second. (Sylvain Roy-Roussel/Radio-Canada)
'Quebecers are sending us a message,' says Legault
Premier François Legault conceded the CAQ had lost the riding.
This is the first victory for the PQ in the Jean-Talon riding, which was a Liberal bastion until the Coalition Avenir Québec won it in a 2019 byelection. But CAQ MNA Joëlle Boutin announced she was leaving politics this summer, triggering the byelection.
Boutin said she made the difficult decision to leave because she found being a politician required too many sacrifices for her family. She had been re-elected in Jean-Talon in the 2022 provincial election.
Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, left, and Jean-Talon candidate Olivier Bolduc react to their byelection defeat. Bolduc had come in second in the 2022 provincial election. This time he slipped to third, behind the PQ and the CAQ. (Radio-Canada)
The atmosphere among CAQ supporters was somber as they watched the results come in.
Legault thanked Shoiry for her "extraordinary campaign" and took responsibility for the loss. He says the CAQ has heard the message from Jean Talon voters and will take action to respond to concern and priorities of Quebecers in the run-up to the next general election in two years time.
"Tonight, one thing is clear, Quebecers are sending us a message," said Legault. "I have the intention in the next few months to fight for their trust."
There was widespread frustration in the Quebec City area when the CAQ backed down from one of its key election promises and announced a promised new span between Lévis and Quebec City would be reserved for public transit.
Paradis will be the fourth PQ MNA, joining St-Pierre-Plamondon, Joël Arseneau and Pascal Bérubé. (Steve Breton/Radio-Canada)
Paradis' win comes months after spat with CAQ
His win for the party comes months after the PQ and the CAQ accused each other of lying.
In August, Paradis said the CAQ had tried to recruit him during the last election and the CAQ claimed Paradis asked for a place on the cabinet — something the candidate denied.
During his discussions with the CAQ before the 2022 election, Paradis said he had voiced concerns about the government's project to build a third link between Quebec City and the South Shore.
Paradis said CAQ officials told him that the third link project would not go ahead but that it wouldn't be confirmed publicly until after the election.
The CAQ refuted these allegations and told Radio-Canada that before the updated studies, there was never any question of backing down from the project.
In April, the government backtracked on its plan for the third link to include six lanes, revealing that the highway tunnel connecting Quebec to Lévis will be reserved exclusively for public transit — disappointing some members of the caucus as well as voters.