Even in a province that routinely delivers stunning election results, last night’s Quebec provincial election was particularly special. Below, a quick guide as to why 2018 is going to be one of those years that sticks in Quebecers’ memories.
First conservative government in Quebec since 1970
Although they have way slicker branding than the usual Canadian Tories, Coalition Avenir Quebec ticks most of the boxes for a Canadian conservative party: Tax cuts, increased privatization and an end to Quebec dependence on equalization payments. An actual named conservative party hasn’t existed in Quebec since 1935, but the province’s last right wing government was under the Union Nationale, the political machine famously headed by Quebec strongman Maurice Duplessis. Essentially, CAQ is the first conservative party to win power in a Quebec where it’s common to see churches turned into condominiums.
Most personally wealthy premier since Danny Williams
According to disclosures made last month, CAQ leader Francois Legault is worth $10 million. Although he spent the early 2000s as a Parti Quebecois MNA, Legault has an extensive business background that includes co-founding Air Transat in 1987. Unlike the United States, it’s somewhat rare that Canadians elect millionaires to lead them. But Legault’s wealth is still dwarfed by that of former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams. Nicknamed Danny Millions, he was head of Cable Atlantic before selling it to Rogers for $282 million in 2000.
First new party since 1971 to win a majority on only its second election
There are cats older than the CAQ. The party was founded in 2011, and last night was only the second time they had ever contested an election. Naturally, this kind of “overnight” success is exceedingly rare: It would be like Preston Manning founding the Reform Party in 1987 and ascending to the prime minister’s office by 1994. Even the Parti Quebecois needed three elections to capture power. But the last time a new party ever swept to power as quickly as the CAQ was in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan NDP was founded in 1967 as a rebrand of the old CCF. By 1971 the new party was in majority control of the Wheat Province.