Bruno Marchand elected Quebec City's new mayor

Marie-Josée Savard seemed poised to succeed outgoing mayor Régis Labeaume, who governed the city for 14 years, but as the votes continued to be counted, the momentum shifted to Bruno Marchand, a relative newcomer to municipal politics.

Marchand took the lead away from Marie-Josée Savard halfway through the evening

Bruno Marchand was elected mayor of Quebec City late Sunday night, after trailing earlier in the evening. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

It was under a thunder of applause and chants that Bruno Marchand, leader of Québec Forte et Fière, gave his victory speech right before midnight on Sunday evening.

Marchand was elected as Quebec City's next mayor with 32.3 per cent of the votes, ahead of Marie-Josée Savard by just 834 votes. He will replace outgoing Mayor Régis Labeaume, who announced his retirement last May after governing the city for 14 years.

It was a surprising turn of events, as Savard appeared to be winning up until halfway through the evening.

CBC/Radio-Canada had initially projected a win for Savard. But as the votes continued to be counted, Marchand began to gather steam and the gap between the two narrowed and then disappeared.

"What a night, what a night," a jubilant Marchand said. "We have to say it's a big turn in our city's history tonight."

He thanked his team, noting that they had come a long way since the party was created in March this year.

"Let's remember, please, that a year from today we were at one per cent [of the votes]," he said. "No name, no party yet, a leader unknown by the public."

Marchand said his team was ready to bring some changes to the city, adding their mantra would be to leave no one behind. 

"The challenges ahead of us are important and if we don't unite, we won't make it," he said.

In a statement issued Monday morning, Savard's party congratulated Marchand for his victory.

The dramatic turn of events prompted apologies from broadcasters.

"Our decision desk rigorously followed the usual process,'' Luce Julien, Radio-Canada's executive director of news and current affairs, said in a statement. "We will look for the answers to all our questions to explain what happened. We will communicate all the explanations with the public as soon as we have brought them to light.''

TVA News also issued a statement apologizing for the error.

"At the time Ms. Savard was declared elected, a significant number of (polling stations) had been counted and the trend was holding. She was more than 5,000 votes ahead. When the trend reversed itself, we corrected the situation,'' the network said. "Like all media, we declare candidates elected based on trends. We are sorry for this regrettable situation.''

In his victory speech late Sunday, Marchand, the former director of the regional United Way, also apologized — for the fact his supporters had to wait so long for the good news.

"Is your heart still holding up?'' he joked. "What an evening! Thank you for your patience.''

A new face in Quebec City politics

Supporters of Bruno Marchand react as their candidate passes Marie-Josée Savard in the results at the municipal election of Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Marchand is relatively new to municipal politics. He became the leader of Québec Forte et Fière in April this year, less than a month after his party was officially created.

Born and raised in Quebec City's Limoilou neighbourhood, he was president of the Quebec City, Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent branch of Centraide from 2014 until launching his campaign.

His victory over Savard marks the end of an era in Quebec City's municipal politics. Savard was vowing continuity by promising to pick up on Labeaume's projects. She was endorsed by Labeaume after having worked closely with him as city councillor for eight years.

Labeaume, who was first elected in a byelection in 2007, was often dubbed "King Régis" for his iron-clad hold on city hall.

One of Marchand's priorities is to solve the issue of homelessness in Quebec City, saying he would work with community groups to reach this goal.

He will lead city hall with a minority of seats on city council. As of 12:30 a.m. on Monday, only six out of Quebec City's 21 city councillors were members of his party.

Équipe Marie-Josée Savard won 10 seats on city council, Québec 21 won four, and new party Transition Québec won one seat.

Win and losses for the city's other parties

The new municipal party Transition Québec claimed a victory Sunday, even though its leader Jackie Smith did not get elected as mayor.

The party succeeded in getting one seat on city council in Limoilou. Madeleine Cloutier, Smith's running mate, defeated Savard's candidate in the Limoilou district by more than 900 votes. 

That allowed Smith to become city councillor thanks to the province's running-mate system, which permits a defeated mayoral candidate to take the place of one of their party's elected candidates on council.

"Mission accomplished! Transition Québec will have a voice at city hall," Smith said in a statement Sunday evening. She added that her party had managed to steer the conversation toward making the city more green during the campaign, and that it would continue to make those changes now that it had a seat at the table. 

Things were less cheerful for Jean-François Gosselin, who ran for mayor with the party Québec 21. After failing twice to get elected as mayor, Gosselin told Radio-Canada he was quitting as the leader of his party and that he wouldn't seek the position anymore. He will still serve on city council thanks to the running-mate system.

"It's twice now that I run for mayor, I lost two times, so I am no longer the leader of Québec 21," he said.

Démocratie Québec, led by Jean Rousseau, won't be represented at city hall, as the party did not win any seats.

Gilles Lehouillier re-elected in Lévis

Gilles Lehouillier is re-elected as mayor of Lévis, Que., CBC/Radio-Canada projects. (Marc-Antoine Lavoie/Radio-Canada)

Across the St. Lawrence in Lévis, CBC/Radio-Canada projected a win for Gilles Lehouillier, the party leader of Lévis Force 10. He was in the lead with more than 74.8 per cent of the votes as of 12:30 a.m. on Monday.

This will be Lehouillier's third mandate. He was first elected in 2013.

He won against Elhadji Mamadou Diarra, leader of Repensons Lévis, who as of 12:30 a.m. Monday had 20.8 per cent of the votes.

Refresh this page to see the latest results.

For more details on results across the province, see below:


  • An earlier version of this story projected a win for Marie-Josée Savard as mayor of Quebec City. As more results came in, CBC/Radio-Canada decision desk changed its projection to Bruno Marchand.
    Nov 07, 2021 11:52 PM ET

With files from Radio-Canada and the Canadian Press.