Québec Solidaire's Andrés Fontecilla and Françoise David

Once viewed as a far-left fringe party, Quebec Soildare gained traction and credibility among many Montrealers during the student crisis and the subsequent election campaign.
Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Françoise David won her first election in 2012. (Jacques Boissinot/ Canadian Press)

Once viewed as a far-left fringe party, Quebec Solidare gained traction and credibility among many Montrealers during the student crisis and the subsequent election campaign.

And this election, the party has a legitimate shot at expanding its seats from the record two claimed by the party’s co-spokespeople in the fall of 2012.

Quebec Solidare, though largely Montreal-focused, ran candidates in 124 ridings in the last election, taking six per cent of the popular vote.

The party rules by consensus and rejects the traditional concept of a "leader," choosing instead to front two spokespeople, positions now held by Françoise David and Andrés Fontecilla.

David, an ardent crusader for social justice and prominent community activist, showed the party’s potential in 2012, securing her first ever seat in the legislature and taking part in the French-language debate during the campaign.

David’s passionate but poised manner surprised many who painted the party solely on the, at times brash, and ever-animated statements of the party’s former co-spokesperson, Amir Khadir.

Francois Legault, Jean Charest, Pauline Marois and Francoise David on the set of the 2012 leaders' debate. (Graham Hughes/ Canadian Press)

While the party was founded on five principles, including sovereignty, David and the party have resisted the push to team up with the Parti Québecois going into the election, citing their incongruent social policies.

“The attack against people on social assistance and child care has been a point of no return,” she said in May.  “In such a context any common election strategy was impossible.”

David ran the Quebec Federation of Women from 1994 to 2001.

She also helped found the feminist political movement Option Citoyenne (Citizen Option) before assisting in the creation of Québec Solidaire in 2006.

David ran two unsuccessful campaigns before winning her seat in the Gouin riding in 2012.

Born in Montreal in 1948, David is the daughter of the late Paul David, founder of the Montreal Heart Institute and former Conservative senator.

David studied community organization at the University of Montreal.

She was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1999.

Khadir steps aside

Khadir stepped down as co-spokesperson of the party in November 2012, citing his belief that the ideals of the party, and not one leader, should be the focus going forward.

Andrés Fontecilla ran in the Laurier-Dorion riding in 2012, coming in third with nearly 8,000 votes. (Québec solidaire/YouTube)
While Khadir held on to his seat in the national assembly, Québec Solidaire membership chose Fontecilla to succeed him in the party leadership in May.  

Fontecella, a community activist, has been critical of the government's economic policy and plans for the province's financial future. 

At the party's meeting in Sherbrooke in December, Fontecilla said the province needs to take the necessary steps to get rid of what he called its"addiction to oil" and rely instead on "green gold," like wind and solar resources.

Fontecella, a native of Chili, moved to Quebec with his family in 1981. In CEGEP, he founded the Association for International Solidarity and was involved in the 1986 student strike.

He studied anthropology at the University of Montreal. In the 1990s, he served as a UN human rights observer in Haiti.  

Since 1998, he has worked as a co-ordinator for Villeray's Community Solidarity Council, a group of organizations that works to fight poverty.

He has been a member of Québec Solidaire since its creation and received 24 per cent of the vote in the Laurier-Dorion riding in the 2012 election.