© Photo Leslie Schachter
Jacques Cartier MNA Geoff Kelley celebrates withi his family Monday night as results roll in the Quebec provincial election. The Liberals grabbed 71 seats to win a majority government and take power in Quebec City.
Jacques Cartier MNA Geoff Kelley praised Quebec Liberal Party leader Phillippe Couillard’s heady and consistent performance throughout the 33-day provincial-election campaign that resulted in a Liberal majority government, sweeping power out from under the Parti Quebecois Monday night.
“(Phillippe Couillard) exceeded expectations and impressed me with his performance throughout the campaign. He stuck to the plan, and in a very dirty campaign, he stayed cool, calm and collected. The quality of his campaign was clear,” on a daily basis, Kelley said.
With 148 of 152 Jacques Cartier riding polls reporting, Kelley held a dominating 27,437-vote edge as of 10:40 p.m. Monday evening, winning a seventh term handily.
With the majority victory, the Liberals were granted a clear mandate to govern Quebec for the foreseeable future – and they plan on doing so responsibly, Kelley said.
“This (majority mandate) is a great tribute to Mr. Couillard. He made bold moves. He ran in a in a region instead of Montreal or Quebec City, and made the theme of his campaign inclusion, together – ensemble,” Kelley said at his Cartier Avenue electoral committee office
Quebecers voted for a premier who gets up in the morning thinking of the economy, health care and jobs, instead of a premier who wakes up in the morning looking to pick a fight, the former native affairs minister added.
“People are tired of a divided Quebec,” he said.
Finishing a distant second, Denis Deguire of the Coalition Avenir Quebec garnered a disappointing, yet expected 5.9 per cent of the vote.
“I knew I wasn’t going to win but I had to try,” said Deguire, a newcomer to politics.
Deguire said it won’t be too long before the “Liberals empty the pockets of Quebecers.”
“I tried to help the poor people save money,” said the retired Ste. Anne de Bellevue resident and current churchwarden at the local parish.
The election campaign revolved around two major issues: a potential referendum and the PQ’s Charter of Values project, said Kelley.
“In the West Island, people really didn’t want a referendum, and the Charter of Values issue was something West Islanders took personally. They said ‘that is not the kind of society we want,’ and they made their feelings clear at the polls,” said the Beaconsfield resident, adding the value of education – and the PQ’s moves to cut school boards’ funding substantially – rubbed locals the wrong way.
“Many people in the riding are affiliated with the education system and those areas have suffered serious cuts. We want to restore confidence and commit more resources to the system,” he said.
No kidding. A number of current and former Lester B. Pearson School Board commissioners volunteered on Kelley’s campaign, including Ile Bizard resident Rosemary Murphy, who sat as a commissioner for 12 years. Murphy, who co-ordinated volunteers, said the campaign brought a lot of new blood in the form of new volunteers.
“When we tried to get people to help out with the campaign, most of the people we got in touch with wanted to help. We had 25 volunteers in here today, and it was amazing – a real family atmosphere,” she said.
The mood was light in the Kelley campaign headquarters in Pointe Claire as the results started rolling in Monday night – when the Liberals started pulling ahead, the atmosphere picked up measurably.
As the Liberals moved closer and closer to winning power, the cheers grew louder and louder in the small Cartier Avenue storefront.
“36! Yes!” said one observer, as others pulled seats closer and closer to the television, and glasses of wine got fuller and fuller – and drained more and more quickly as CTV declared a Liberal majority government.
“It’s going to be a great challenge, but it’s a chance to turn the page on the last 18 months of government, and we’re excited to get started working on the issues that really matter to Quebecers,” Kelley said.