By Hilary White

  RIVIERE DU LOUP, Quebec, March 27, 2007 ( – In Monday’s election, Quebecers are sending a message that the province’s admiration for leftist government paternalism, as well as the advance of homosexual politics, is nearing its end.

  Openly gay Andre Boisclair’s separatist Parti Quebecois has suffered its most resounding defeat in its recent history while the moderately conservative Action democratique du Quebec, headed by Mario Dumont of Riviere du Loup, surged from five seats to 41 and will replace the PQ as the official opposition.

  Of the Quebec National Assembly’s 125 seats, the PQ won just 36 with 28% of the vote to finish in third place. Premier Jean Charest’s Liberals won a minority government with 48 seats – Quebec’s first minority government since 1878.

  The ADQ’s remarkable rise is being hailed not only as a major shift in the province’s political outlook, but as a possible boost to Stephen Harper’s federal Conservative government.

  In his speech at Riviere du Loup to supporters last night, Dumont said that the election “marks the beginning of a new age for Quebec.”

  Dumont’s policies have included advocating for a cash allowance to parents who prefer to keep their children at home rather than use the government sponsored daycare. He has also advocated for private health care and health insurance in addition to the public system; the abolition of school boards; a tougher criminal justice system; reductions in the size of the provincial bureaucracy and lower taxes.

  In his victory speech, Dumont promised to deliver on his platform favouring families, the middle-class, and a diminished power of the state. Dumont told the jubilant crowd, “Everywhere, autonomists sent a powerful political message—a message of change.”

  Newspapers across the country are asking “Who is Mario Dumont and what does he stand for?” The Globe and Mail hailed the “small-c conservative” and family friendly Dumont as “the only undisputed winner” in the election and the man now poised as the power broker in Quebec politics. The Montreal Gazette called the abrupt shift in Quebec politics “a revolt, Mario Dumont-style”.

  The so-called Quiet Revolution of the late 1960’s established a two-party system in which power was shared between the Liberal party and the PQ, both leaning heavily to the left on social and economic issues.

  But in recent years, with Quebec’s population aging and birth rate at a standstill, the welfare state ideal has begun to pall in the public mind as hospital emergency room wait times and taxes rise in tandem.

  Tasha Kheiriddin, co-author of Rescuing Canada’s Right: Blueprint for a Conservative Revolution, told the Canadian Press on Monday that there are signs of a shift away from the extreme left. A weak showing for the PQ in rural areas, she said, where the separatist party was previously popular, is an indication that “perhaps Quebec is not ready for a gay premier.”

“There seems to be dissatisfaction with the Quebec model in general and there is a sense that we need to fix it, change it or abandon it altogether,” she said.


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