Montreal

Liberal MNA Dominique Anglade becomes first black woman to lead a provincial political party in Quebec

Dominique Anglade, a prominent cabinet minister in premier Philippe Couillard's one-term government, is also the first woman to lead the Quebec Liberals in the party's 151-year history.

Anglade was named leader after her lone rival dropped out of the race on Monday

Dominique Anglade had been the favorite to win the Liberal leadership race before it was suspended because of the pandemic. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Dominique Anglade became Monday the first black woman to lead a provincial political party in Quebec after her only opponent in the Liberal leadership race dropped out.

Anglade, a prominent cabinet minister in premier Philippe Couillard's one-term government, is also the first woman to lead the Quebec Liberals in the party's 151-year history.

Her lone rival to replace Couillard, former Drummondville mayor Alexandre Cusson, withdrew his candidacy earlier on Monday, citing the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Considering the current evolution of the pandemic in Quebec, the impact it has on the lives of the population and on the possible resumption of the leadership race, it seems unrealistic and irresponsible to me to picture a resumption of this race in the coming weeks, or even before 2021," Cusson wrote on Facebook. 

The PLQ executive committee adopted a resolution shortly afterward, declaring Anglade leader of Official Oposition. Mont-Royal–Outremont MNA Pierre Arcand had been serving as interim leader.  

Anglade said on Twitter that she supported Cusson's decision and that she admired his dedication to the party's supporters. 

"I'm proud to become the first female leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, a party that has always been at the forefront of economic and social progress," she added later in a statement.

Engineer, consultant and charity work before politics

Anglade, who represents the Montreal riding of Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne, was the favourite to win the leadership race.

Trained as an industrial engineer, Anglade worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company for many years before entering politics. 

In 2010, both her parents died when a powerful earthquake struck during a visit to their hometown of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Later that year, Anglade co-founded the KANPE Foundation, a sustainable development charity that works in Haiti. 

Anglade said that under her leadership the Liberals will be 'a strong opposition who, in this public health crisis, will question the government without respite.' (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

She served as minister of economic development, innovation and trade between 2016 and 2018, and then was the Liberal critic for economic and immigration issues.

Within the Liberal party, Anglade is known for advocating a stronger position on religious symbols.

The PLQ has traditionally opposed barring police officers, judges and prison guards from wearing religious symbols while at work.

Anglade, however, has said she is open to those restrictions, although she does not support the secularism law, passed by the Coalition Avenir Québec government last year.

In a release Monday, Anglade said under her leadership, the Liberal will focus on the environment and the economy. 

"We will also be a strong opposition who, in this public health crisis, will question the government without respite and will propose solutions in the name of all Quebecers," she said. 

Anglade was a founding member of the Coalition Avenir Québec, and ran unsuccessfully for the party in the 2012 election, before eventually defecting to the Liberals.

She left the CAQ, she said, because she disagreed with the party's views on identity and immigration.

Premier François Legault took to Twitter Monday to congratulate his former colleague turned opponent. 

"Very excited to debate with you," he wrote.

With files from Radio-Canada

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now