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A triumphant Liberal return in Quebec

Quebec elections are never dull because they are full of colourful characters, intrigue and more than a few surprises. Whether it's the Liberals ushering in the Quiet Revolution with their 1960 win, or the emotional 1976 election of René Lévesque and his separatist Parti Québécois, the voting habits of our belle province guarantee to fascinate.

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Most are predicting a Liberal victory, but that's not stopping the new Parti Québécois leader Pierre-Marc Johnson from taking swipes at Liberal leader Robert Bourassa, reports CBC Television. A radio debate in English turns out to be the most vociferous exchange of the campaign. Bourassa calls Premier Johnson "the master of double-talk" while Johnson warns Quebecers to vote wisely to avoid "being stuck with Bourassa" for four years. Polls indicate Quebec voters, tired of the PQ's separatist mandate, are staunchly supporting the Liberal party.

Quebecers deliver a huge victory for the Liberal party on Dec. 2, 1985. It secures 99 seats while the PQ hangs on to only 23. It is the second biggest victory in Quebec election history but for Liberal leader Bourassa the win is bittersweet. He suffers a humiliating personal loss when he loses in his own riding. Observers agree that Quebecers may have embraced the Liberal party but have resoundingly rejected its leader.
• After taking time out of politics after his 1976 defeat, Robert Bourassa returned to support the "Non" side during the 1980 Quebec referendum. He was re-elected as the Liberal leader in 1983, replacing Claude Ryan.

• A downward trend in the economy, high levels of inflation, increasing unemployment and diminishing support for Quebec independence translated into huge losses for the Parti Québécois.

• Pierre-Marc Johnson is the son of Quebec Premier and Union Nationale leader Daniel Johnson. The younger Johnson was voted in as PQ's new leader following René Lévesque's resignation. Major setbacks over the constitution and ideological infighting over Quebec independence led to Lévesque's resignation in 1985. He died two years later at age 65.

• The 1985 election was plagued by harsh weather conditions. Many Quebec voters had to cast their ballots by candlelight due to collapsed hydro wires.
Medium: Television
Program: The National Magazine
Broadcast Date: Nov. 30, 1985
Guest(s): Robert Bourassa, Pierre-Marc Johnson
Host: George McLean
Reporter: Tom Kennedy
Duration: 1:59

Last updated: August 21, 2012

Page consulted on November 4, 2014

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