“Let’s Continue” served as Premier François Legault’s election slogan, and Quebecers gave him what he asked, re-electing his Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) with 90 seats (out of 125) for an even larger majority government. They had won 74 seats in 2018.
While the Quebec Liberal Party managed to hold onto its position as the official opposition, it was reduced to 21 seats and less than 15 per cent of the vote, its worst result in the party’s history.
Quebec Solidaire, the far-left party came in third, with 11 seats, followed by the Parti Québécois with 3 seats, with the right-wing Conservative Party of Quebec getting shut out.
What comes next
Over the next few days, Premier Legault will name a transition team who will be responsible for renewing his Cabinet and preparing the game plan for governing over the next four years and, in particular, evaluating the incoming government’s priorities over the next few months.
We can expect the swearing-in of the new government within the next few weeks, likely the week of October 17th. This will be followed by an inaugural speech (what is referred to as a Throne Speech elsewhere in Canada) and a short sitting of the National Assembly at the end of November, with a fall economic statement or mini-budget presented and voted on quickly.
All the CAQ Ministers won re-election, with the exception of Nadine Giraud, Marguerite Blais and Danielle McCann, the Ministers of International Relations, Seniors and Post-Secondary Education, respectively, who didn’t run this time around.
We’re likely to see some changes, starting with Minister of Immigration and Labour Jean Boulet, who made very controversial comments about immigrants and who Legault has already said will not keep his immigration responsibilities. Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge, who had a tough first mandate, will likely move elsewhere. Minister of Justice and the French Language Simon Jolin-Barrette could also find himself in a new role. At this point, it’s hard to speculate on what will happen to the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, and Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Security Geneviève Guilbault
A number of new and high-profile CAQ candidates won for the first time and many will likely make their way into the inner sanctum, including Bernard Drainville, Martine Biron, Pascale Déry and Kateri Champagne Jourdain, the first Innu — and the first Indigenous woman — to be elected to the National Assembly. With the largest number of women ever elected and another gender-balanced cabinet, we can expect to see a number of new women joining the team.
The core of the economic team will likely stay in place, including Finance Minister Eric Girard, Treasury Board President Sonia Lebel and Minister of the Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon. Minister of Health Christian Dubé is also expected to keep his post.
The Quebec Liberal Party managed to maintain its role as the official opposition, and its leader Dominique Anglade managed to win her seat. However, after a disorganized campaign and its worst result in history (dropping 10 per cent from its previous worst result four years ago), there will be many calls for Anglade to step down. The Liberals won a shocking 10 per cent of votes outside of the Island of Montreal.
Quebec Solidaire, the far-left party that was hoping to become the official opposition, managed only to maintain the status quo, losing a seat but gaining two new ones, improving to 11 seats (up from 10) and remaining in third place.
The Parti Québécois, long a ruling party in Quebec and leader of the separatist movement, was left with only three seats, including its new leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, who will make his entry into the National Assembly. While many predicted the party would completely disappear off the map, it managed to hang on, but barely. Major questions will remain about the future of the party and the separatist movement.
And finally, the upstart Conservative Party of Quebec, which only two years ago was sitting below 2 per cent support, managed to reach 13 per cent, yet failed to elect any members. It remains to be seen if this party will return to being a fringe party whose popularity was based largely on opposition to Covid restrictions.
What does this mean for you?
The initial priorities of the government will be to mail out cheques between $400 and $600 to help offset the rising cost of living; this could reach up to 6.4 million Quebecers in December and will cost the government $3.5 billion.
We can also expect the government to reduce by one percentage point the first two income tax brackets, starting in 2023 (and to cut income taxes by a total of 2.5 percentage points over the next 10 years). No corporate tax reductions were promised or expected in the short term.
The labour shortage will remain a major issue, as the CAQ has made it clear that it will not increase immigration to more than 50,000 people per year, citing concerns about integrating new arrivals into Quebec and in French.
Bill 96, the updated language law passed last June, will continue to be implemented over the next few months and years; we will continue to monitor how the law affects individual Quebecers and businesses, and if any changes are made.
With only two CAQ Members of the National Assembly elected on the island of Montreal, it will be interesting to see how the CAQ addresses the lack of strong voices from the economic engine of the province.
The biggest advantage of any party’s re-election is that many of the players remain the same. As mentioned above, the senior economic portfolios will be held by the same ministers, and we can expect many of the members of their teams will also remain in place.
McMillan Vantage will be there to help you renew relationships and begin new ones.
For more information about Quebec government relations support from McMillan Vantage, please contact Jonathan Kalles.