François Legault revives hope for third link project after defeat in Quebec City

By The Canadian Press & News Staff

QUEBEC – After his stinging defeat in Quebec City’s Jean-Talon riding on Monday night, Premier François Legault now says he wants to consult Quebec City’s population on the third link project and all options are on the table.

Arguing that the decision to abandon the third highway link had hurt his government badly, Legault says he wants to see what the population has to offer.

The Parti québécois scored a decisive victory over the CAQ on Monday evening. The latest figures from Élections Québec show Pascal Paradis with 44 per cent of the vote, compared to 21 per cent for his closest rival, CAQ candidate Marie-Anik Shoiry.

Last April, the government announced that it was abandoning the third highway link project, opting instead for a tunnel reserved for public transit.

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With the arrival of a new elected official in its ranks, the Parti québécois hopes to question the government more.

“Given that we’re enlarging the group, we’re hoping to get more questions. We could now get one question a day. We think we’ll get it with the arrival of Pascal Paradis, one more MNA,” said PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

St-Pierre Plamondon was visibly irritated by the fact that Premier François Legault didn’t wait until the end of his Monday evening speech to make his own.

“If the government’s message was one of self-questioning and modesty, it’s a bit contradictory not to let your opponent, who just won the election, finish his speech when you could have waited a minute and a half,” he said.

Québec solidaire (QS) lost some feathers on Monday evening falling from 24 per cent in 2022 to 18 per cent in 2023.

QS parliamentary leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois blames Monday’s defeat on the fact that so few young people turned out to vote.

“According to our initial estimates, young people voted about half as much as those aged 65 and over,” he said.

“We knew the challenge in this election would be to get the youth vote out. Obviously, we didn’t meet that challenge,” added Nadeau-Dubois.

QS candidate Olivier Bolduc – who was making his third attempt in Jean-Talon- finished in third place, having come second in the last election in 2022.

Interim Liberal leader Marc Tanguay says he fully accepts his party’s defeat in Jean-Talon: “A defeat is a defeat.”

At the same time, he interprets Monday’s result as a “strong vote against the CAQ”.

“The people of Jean-Talon sent a very clear message to the CAQ government. And in that sense, it explains, for many, the PQ’s victory,” said Tanguay.

An interpretation Jimmy Zoubris, special advisor to Montreal mayor Valérie Plante agrees with.

“The big loser yesterday has to be the CAQ,” said Zoubris. “And, I think the Premier announced it in his speech when he said this wasn’t just a referendum on Jean-Talon. It was a referendum on our government, especially from that area.”

Historical win for the PQ

It was the first time the PQ won in Jean-Talon. The riding was a Liberal stronghold until the arrival of CAQ MNA Joëlle Boutin in 2019. In 2022, the Liberals finished fourth with 14 per cent of the vote. On Monday, Liberal candidate Élise Avard Bernier took just 9 per cent.

Despite this crushing defeat, the Liberal leader said his caucus is motivated to continue its opposition work. “We spit in our hands and start again”, said the Liberal leader, referring to Jacques Parizeau on the night of the 1995 referendum.

The Solidarity and Liberal leaders declined to comment on the PQ’s request for more questions, saying this was a matter for their respective party leaders.

Parti Quebecois elected member Pascal Paradis, right, and Parti Quebecois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon wave to motorists to that them for electing a Parti Quebecois MNA for the first time in its history, Tuesday, October 3, 2023 in Quebec City. Paradis won the byelection in the riding of Jean-Talon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

“Thank you” to voters

It was a short night for new PQ MNA Pascal Paradis: at around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, he was already up thanking his constituents with St-Pierre Plamondon.

Paradis stood on the corner of a busy intersection in the Jean-Talon riding with signs reading “Merci!”

As The Canadian Press passed by, motorists were honking their horns to show their support for the new MNA.

“It was a desire that I completely understand to send a message to the government, and then a message that we constantly got on the ground, namely: we think you’re doing a good job,” analyzed the PQ leader in a press scrum Tuesday.

Adding that this win is a warning to the CAQ.

“That we are a solid and credible alternative capable of winning against the CAQ – even capable of doing this in Quebec City – so it means that we’re also capable of winning everywhere else in Quebec,” he said.

Parti Quebecois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, left, elected member Pascal Paradis, right, and MNAs Joel Arseneau and Pascal Berube, walk to a news conference, Tuesday, October 3, 2023 in Quebec City. Paradis won the byelection in the riding of Jean-Talon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

– With files from The Canadian Press

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