PQ leader wins byelection in decisive victory

Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois sailed to an easy byelection victory Monday, securing a seat in the national assembly.

Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois sailed to an easy byelection victory Monday,securinga seat in the national assembly.

Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois joins hands with outgoing MNA Rosaire Bertrand as they wave to supporters after winning a bylection in the riding of Charlevoix. ((Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press))

Marois's win in the Charlevoix riding is seen asa major boost to the slumping PQ and the sovereignty movement. It alsomakes Marois the first elected female party leader in the province's history.

"This win feels good," Marois told cheering supporters in the riding northeast of Quebec City.

"Tonight's victory won't stop there. We will have to keep on listening and understanding and, especially, we will have to show we are capable of meeting people's expectations."

In her victory speech, Marois also vowed to revive the party's main goal: Quebec sovereignty.

With all 149 polls reporting in the Charlevoix riding, Marois had59.2 per cent of the popularvote, compared with 37per cent forAction Démocratique du Québec candidate Conrad Harvey.

Harvey, a civil servant, ran in the Charlevoixriding in theprovince's general election last spring and finished second behind thePQ's Rosaire Bertrand.

Marois's 4,255-vote margin of victory in the byelectionwas more than double the 1,663 votes Bertrand managed over Harvey in the general election.

Bertrand stepped down last month, after holdingthe seat since 1994, to make way for Marois.

While the riding was represented by the Liberal Party from 1962 to 1989, the Liberals did not field a candidate in the byelection in order to ensure Marois secured a seat in the national assembly, where they can test her ideas.

Marois, 58, became PQ leader in June after André Boisclair stepped down in the wake of an election defeat that left the party in third place in the legislature.

She owns a cabin in the Charlevoix riding but is originally from Quebec City.

Marois first sat in the legislature in 1981, when she was elected in La Peltrie riding outside Quebec city.In 1985, she was defeated, but then was elected in 1989 in the riding of Taillon.

She's held a number of high-profile cabinet posts, including finance, health, education and deputy premier.

But she failed in bids to become PQ leader in 1985 and 2005.

With files from the Canadian Press