QUEBEC — The Parti Québécois handily won the hotly contested byelection in the Quebec City riding of Jean-Talon on Monday night, capturing a seat held by the governing Coalition Avenir Québec since 2019.
The sovereigntist party will add a fourth member to its team at the provincial legislature after Pascal Paradis, a lawyer by trade, cruised to victory.
Paradis of the PQ had about 44 per cent of the vote, winning by more than 5,800 votes over Coalition candidate Marie-Anik Shoiry, who garnered just over 21 per cent.
As the results came in, PQ supporters cheered with joy at a local restaurant where they gathered, while the Coalition election-night venue resembled a funeral, the members seemingly stunned by the turn of events.
The PQ has never won the riding in the provincial capital region, a former stronghold for the Quebec Liberal party, which held it for 54 years before the Coalition party won a byelection in 2019.
The PQ has seen a reversal in its fortunes in recent months, polling second to the Coalition Avenir Québec provincewide.
PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said Monday night his party's win was a warning to the government and a demonstration that it could provide a credible alternative capable of beating the powerful Coalition party.
Coalition Avenir Québec's Joelle Boutin triggered a byelection when she quit politics this summer.
All main parties spent a lot time on the ground in the riding and the Coalition party sent senior ministers, political staffers and even Premier François Legault into the riding in support of Shoiry.
For his part, Legault took the blame for the loss on Monday night.
“Marie-Anik, you did not lose," Legault said addressing his candidate. "It’s the CAQ and I who lost.”
Legault said there was a message sent by voters and he is committed to responding to the priorities of the electors, adding that "in the coming months, I fully intend to rebuild this bond of trust with the people of Quebec."
Leftist Québec solidaire candidate Olivier Bolduc, who finished second to Boutin in last year's general election, was third this time around.
The Liberals finished well behind in fourth place.
After having won four byelections held since 2017, Legault's Coalition has now lost two this year after Québec solidaire won the Montreal riding of Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne in March.
The PQ had not won a byelection since 2016 before Monday's surprise win. A little more than 55 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
Even with the loss, the Coalition Avenir Québec still has a solid majority with 89 seats in the 125-seat legislature.
The Liberals are second with 19, Québec solidaire has 12 and the PQ now has four. There is one Independent member.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2023.
Caroline Plante, Patrice Bergeron and Thomas Laberge, The Canadian Press