The Current

Parti Québécois promise not to pursue sovereignty let voters drift away, says Bernard St-Laurent

Once a powerhouse in Quebec, the Parti Québécois lost official status in Monday's election. Anna Maria Tremonti is joined by three political observers to discuss what went wrong, and what comes next.

Once a powerhouse in Quebec, party lost official status in Monday's election

A Parti Québécois supporter looks on in Montreal as the results come in on election night. The party won 9 seats, losing official party status. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

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The Parti Québécois made a strategic blunder by promising there would be no referendum on sovereignty if the party was elected, according to a veteran CBC radio host and political observer.

"I think that that's what made it possible for particularly traditional Francophone Liberal voters — who were afraid of the sovereignty option — to move away from the Liberals and go over to François Legault's CAQ," said Bernard St-Laurent.

"And the same for sovereigntists, who figured: 'OK, well if we're not going to be talking about referendum, maybe the next best thing is the CAQ and their nationalist policies,'" he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"So I think that strategy ... is probably what has contributed to the demise of the PQ in this last election."

Jean-Francois Lisée announced he would be stepping down as Parti Québécois leader after he failed to secure his seat in Rosemont. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), a right-of-centre party that has never held power, won a majority with 74 seats in Monday's election, ousting the incumbent Liberals.

The PQ lost official party status when it won just nine seats — one less than the sovereigntist Québec Solidaire.

To discuss the fall of the Parti Québécois, and what comes next, Tremonti was joined by:

  • Bernard St-Laurent, veteran CBC radio host and political observer
  • Graham Fraser, visiting professor at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and the author of several books on Quebec politics
  • Valérie-Anne Mahéo, a political science researcher at the Université de Montréal

Listen to the full discussion near the top of this page.

Produced by Idella Sturino, Samira Mohyeddin and Suzanne Dufresne.