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Antoine Robitaille June 12, 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/352247/le-plq-perd-son-fief-d-argenteuil
The PLQ won an easy victory in La Fontaine, but the PQ scores an unexpected win as Roland Richer is elected.
CAPTION: Liberal Party leader Jean Charest addressed his followers last night in Argenteuil: “Here in Argenteuil, (victory) is postponed.”
Québec – The Parti Québecois won the riding of Argenteuil in an upset for the first time in its history, dislodging the Liberals, whose candidates had held the riding since 1962. “For the Liberal government, tonight marks the beginning of the end,” trumpeted PQ leader Pauline Marois just after 11:15 PM. She declared that the “corrupt” Liberal government would face the same fate in the coming weeks. Minutes later, after emphasizing his victory in LaFontaine, the Liberal Party Leader Jean Charest declared, “Here in Argenteuil, (victory) is postponed.”
In Argenteuil, PQ candidate Roland Richard trailed behind as the results were coming in, until 10 PM, at which point he began climb up close to PLQ candidate Lise Proulx. From this point onwards, the 70-year old Mr. Richer, a retired special needs educator and elementary school principal, took the lead and held on to it. He finally won with a 501-vote majority. Argenteuil’s former Liberal MNA, David Whissell, had difficulty holding the riding in 1998, winning by less than 200 votes. However in 2008, Whissell won handily (49.58%of the vote, a majority by 3490 votes). As for Mr. Richer, he saw his victory as the result of the “anti-corruption,” and, “discontent,” vote, but he insisted that it also represented, “a great gesture of hope.”
In LaFontaine, lawyer Marc Tanguay, president of the Liberal party, easily won the riding, despite a weaker PLQ showing than in preceding elections. Tanguay obtained 53.32% of the popular vote, and a majority by 3710 votes. In 2008, Tony Tomassi – the former MNA currently facing charges of fraud – received 69.76%, a majority by 10,181votes.
Domenico Cavaliere, the CAQ’s candidate, was contending for second place last night, but finished in third behind the PQ’s Frédéric St-Jean. The PQ had practically conceded a PLQ victory in LaFontaine. Mr. St-Jean, who lives in Saint-Hyacinthe, could have registered as a voter in LaFontaine and voted there, in which case he would have been a local candidate. Either way, the party did not see this as necessary.
Regarding the upset in Argenteuil, Jean Charest’s counselor, Mario Lavoie, attempted to frame it in more favourable terms, tweeting, “From 1993 to 2011, Argenteuil voted for the Bloc Québecois”… For precisely this reason, the CAQ had invested a lot of hope in the their candidate in Argenteuil, Mario Laframboise, a former Bloc MP, also a former mayor and prefect in the riding. The CAQ, whose name appeared on the ballot for the first time yesterday, came in third place.
In Argenteuil, the leader of the Québec Green Party (PVQ), Claude Sabourin, edged into fourth place (as in 2007), ahead of Québec Solidaire. The party of Amir Khadir and Françoise David, under the slogan, “Faites entendre le doux son des casseroles dans les urnes (Let’s hear the sweet sound of the pots at the polls),” collected a meager 2.7% of the vote in Argenteuil and 5.9% in Lafontaine. In the latter QS improved upon the 1.91% of the vote they’d received in 2008.
The “Maple Spring” was characterized by renewed interest in political questions, but participation rates in the two districts did not reflect such. They remained relatively low, 42.36% in Argenteuil and25.56% in LaFontaine. In the latter the relatively low turnout was possibly due to many Liberal voters choosing to stay at home.
A Night of Many Firsts
The CAQ was not the only party to run in a provincial election for the first time. Option nationale, the party founded by Nicolet-Yamaska independent MNA (and ex-péquiste) Jean-Martin Aussant, presented its candidates for the first time. Patrick Sabourin in Argenteuil and Paolo Zambito in LaFontaine received an insignificant share of the vote, 1.34% and 1.64%respectively.
Another party that faced an electoral baptism in fire was the Parti conservateur du Québec. It received 1.32% of the vote in LaFontaine (Patrice Raza) and 1.06% of the vote in Argenteuil (JeanLecavalier). The party formed by those disillusioned with the ADQ-CAQ merger, l’Équipe autonomiste, also presented candidates for the first time. However,they finished in last in the two ridings.
In the National Assembly, the PLQ will have 64 seats, and the PQ will have 47. The two new deputies, who will be sworn in next week, may never sit under the mandate they received last night. If, as rumor has it, a general election were triggered in mid-August (in which case it would take place September 17) both would appear on the ballot again.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
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