Liberal incumbent Yolande James was re-elected handily Tuesday night, grabbing 66 per cent of the ballots cast with a wide margin of victory – 19,847 votes.
James, who grew up in Pierrefonds,was surrounded by numerous supporters at her Pierrefonds Boulevard campaign office when it lost power for some time at the beginning of the evening, eventually regaining power in time to see that her margin of victory had climbed by about 5,000 votes from the last provincial election, in 2008. First elected in a 2004 by-election following the resignation of longtime Nelligan MNA Russ Williams, James will now get her first taste of being on the official opposition side of the table in the National Assembly after the Parti Quebecois eked out a narrow minority government, winning 54 seats to the Libs' 50, with the CAQ grabbing the balance of power with 19 seats.
"I am very happy and honoued to have won the confidence of Nelligan voters," she said, in the moments following her victory confirmation, adding that despite the media attention drawn by the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), the hype did not translate into popular support in her riding.
CAQ runner-up Phillippe Boileau ran a distant second with nearly 18 per cent of the vote. Boileau began the evening at his campaign offices near the corner of Gouin and St. John's boulevards, but retreated to his home when it became apparent he would not overtake James.
"It's a bitter defeat," he said. Despite meeting with more than 30,000 voters over the course of the summer, Boileau conceded that Quebecers were not quite ready for a CAQ government. PQ candidate Marcos Archambault grabbed nine per cent of the vote to finish third in the riding. Other candidates grabbing votes were Green Party candidate Kristianne Brunet (three per cent), Quebec Solidaire candidate Elahé Machouf(2.33 per cent), Option Nationale candidate Francois Landry (0.71 per cent) and Quebec Citizens Union candidate Jean-Dominic Lévesque-René, who brought up the rear with 0.22 per cent of the 41,484 ballots cast – giving Nelligan a total voter turnout of 73 per cent, third-highest of the four West Island ridings, matching up with the provincial average of 74.61 per cent, a marked rise in voter participation from 2008, which saw just 56.5 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.
Nelligan—which is comprised of Kirkland, Ile Bizard, Ste. Genevieve and western Pierrefonds -- remained a Liberal fortress, much as it has since 1981, despite high-profile visits during the campaign from CAQ star candidate Jacques Duchesneau and support from former Kirkland city councillor Michel Gibson.
-- With files from Olivier Laniel