Québec Election 2022: Results and Update
As expected, Premier François Legault and the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) will form the next government of Québec following a 36-day election campaign. Their seatcount increased from 76 to 90, a larger majority than in 2018. (*seats won or leading as of this writing). The public did not have to wait long as major media reported that the CAQ had won its majority only 10 minutes after polls closed.
Only 63% of Québecers turned out to vote. A significant increase from the troubling 43% in last spring’s Ontario election, the public’s disengagement is a trend to be monitored closely.
Here are the stories that stood out during this election campaign:
Premier Legault’s campaign was marred by several controversial comments on immigration in Québec. Jean Boulet, Minister of Immigration, made particularly incendiary comments. While these comments were denounced by other parties and led to a marginal dip in the polls, it did not prevent the strong majority.
More importantly, these comments on immigration indicate that Premier Legault will continue to battle with the federal government to give Québec more power over immigration policy. Legault has even floated the idea of a referendum on immigration powers to provide him with bargaining clout with Ottawa.
The Official Opposition at the National Assembly
All eyes turned to the opposition parties in an election where the CAQ’s lead in the polls was insurmountable before the campaign even began. Various polls in the election campaign’s second half put these four parties in a statistical tie. All three parties benefit from different bases in support of geography and demography.
The cost of living and inflation
Like other parts of Canada and the world, Québec is not immune to inflation, supply chain challenges, and the rising cost of living. This issue also took centre stage during the election, with CAQ and Parti Libéral du Québec plans including tax cuts, one-time payments to Québecers and other fiscal measures like removing the provincial sales tax on hydro payments.
Premier Legault’s temperament and political future
Many political commentators and voters noted Premier Legault’s temperament during the election campaign. He seemed tired and grumpy at times, particularly during the first debate. While the Premier insists he will stay on for four years and has not shut the door to running for a third term, his attitude during the election means Legault’s political future will be a story to watch.
Whether his replacement comes in two or four years, the CAQ boasts a strong cohort of candidates. They include Geneviève Guilbeault, Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety, and Simon Jolin-Barrette, Minister of Justice and formerly Minister responsible for bills 21 and 96 on religious symbols and the French language.
1. Swearing-in of Cabinet: As with every election, the next step will be the swearing-in of the new CAQ cabinet. All outgoing Cabinet Ministers were reelected, but Premier Legault now has a large caucus with ambitions and expectations to manage.
2. Swearing-in of Members of the National Assembly (MNAs): All 125 candidates elected in the election will be sworn in during the coming weeks. Expect the National Assembly to briefly return to work before the holidays specifically to adopt measures promised by the CAQ to fight inflation.
3. Continued battles with the federal government: Expect François Legault to continue battling with the federal government over various issues, including immigration powers and increased health care transfers. The latter point is one of unanimity amongst the Premiers and will continue to be an issue.
What does this mean for you?
Despite controversial statements about immigration, Premier Legault stated in his victory speech that he wishes to govern for “all Québecers.” With continuing debates around “national identity” in Québec juxtaposed with skilled labour shortages, it will be crucial to watch how the immigration debate plays out in the province and how it impacts people and businesses.
Premier Legault floated the idea of building new hydroelectric dams to meet increasing electricity needs. Expect the newly reelected government to look to ambitious projects like that to avoid declining public support as they navigate governing with such a significant majority.
François Legault’s victory speech focused heavily on “working together” and “collaboration.” These themes will also play out in how he manages relationships with other Premiers on shared goals like increased healthcare transfers from the federal government.
The CAQ only has one seat on the island of Montréal. Given the weight of economic activity in Montréal, we will watch how they manage the province’s metropolis without representation from their party.