2003 Quebec General Election

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Apr 1, 2003

On April 14, 2003, Quebec voters elected Jean Charest and the Quebec Liberal Party to a majority government. The Liberal win, the first for the Party since 1989, changed the political landscape of the province, ending nine years of rule by the Parti Québécois. The upstart Action démocratique du Québec, and its leader Mario Dumont, also had a successful election, winning four seats in the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale), the province’s provincial legislature. This article summarizes the 2003 Quebec general election, including election history, information on party leaders and platforms, and the final results of the election.

Quebec Electoral Backgrounder

Previous elections and pre-election polls

Political Parties in 2003 Quebec Election

Policies and leaders of the major parties in the election

2003 Quebec Election Results

Liberal Party wins a majority government

Sources and Links for More Information

List of links for more on this topic


Quebec Electoral Backgrounder

Previous election and pre-election party polls

1998 General Election Results

The previous Quebec general election was held in 1998, in which the Parti Québécois won a majority government, with 76 of 125 seats in the provincial legislative assembly. The Liberal Party came in second with 48 seats, forming the Official Opposition. The Action démocratique du Québec, which first emerged in the 1994 general election, won one seat.

(Source: Le Directeur général des elections du Québec)

Provincial By-elections (1998-2003)

Between the general elections of 1998 and 2003, 12 by-elections were held. Of these twelve, the Liberal Party won five, while the Action démocratique du Québec won four. The Parti Québécois only managed to win three of the by-elections during this period.

For more information on Quebec by-election between 1998 and 2003:

Pre-election Public Opinion Polls

Following several decisive by-election victories in 2002, the Action démocratique du Québec and its leader Mario Dumont were riding high in the polls. However, several new polls in March 2003 indicated that support for the Action démocratique du Québec had dropped substantially.

In a 2003 survey completed by the Montreal-based CROP polling firm, the Parti Québécois were leading with 35 percent support, the Liberals in second with 31 percent, and the Action démocratique du Québec in third with only 17 percent support. The survey also found 17 percent of voters were undecided.

In another 2003 survey, done by Leger Marketing, the Parti Québécois and Liberals were neck-in-neck at 42 percent each, with the Action démocratique du Québec a distant third at 16 percent. Other findings of the 2003 Leger Marketing survey were as follows:

Linguistic Voting Patterns

 

Francophone Voters

Non-francophone Voters

Parti Québecois

49%

08%

Liberal Party

31%

84%

Action démocratique

18%

5%

Trust in Leaders

 

Entire Population

Francophones

Non-francophones

Bernard Landry (PQ)

37%

44%

8%

Jean Charest (Liberal)

29%

23%

57%

Mario Dumont (ADQ)

17%

19%

11%

None of the Above

07%

06%

09%


Political Parties in 2003 Quebec Election

Policies and leaders of the major parties in the election

Overview of the Major Political Parties

The three major parties in the 2003 general election are the Parti Québécois, the Quebec Liberal Party, and the Action démocratique du Québec.

The Parti Québécois is committed to Quebec independence, unlike the Quebec Liberal Party. The PQ also envisions a large role for government in economic and social policy, unlike the Action démocratique du Québec. The PQ party was founded in 1968 and first came to power in 1976 under Premier René Lévesque. Over its history, the Parti Québécois has introduced controversial legislation, including prohibiting the use of English on signs and in most commercial transactions, and has twice held provincial referendums on Quebec sovereignty.

The Quebec Liberal Party traditionally supports Canadian federalism, unlike the separatist Parti Québécois. Compared to the Action démocratique du Québec, the Quebec Liberals support a large role for government in the economy. Under the recent leadership of Jean Charest, however, the Party has moved somewhat to the right in terms of economic policy, advocating lower levels of taxation and less government involvement in economic activities. The Quebec Liberal Party has held power during some important events in Quebec history, including Liberal Premier Jean Lesage’s government during the 1960s Quiet Revolution and Liberal Premier Robert Bourassa’s government during the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords.

The Action démocratique du Québec has supported independence in the past; however, during the 2003 election campaign, it supported striking a partnership with Canada. The ADQ strongly opposes a large government role in the economy. The Party was founded in 1994 by Mario Dumont and Jean Allaire following a split with the Quebec Liberal Party. Recently, the ADQ began gaining in the polls and won additional seats in by-elections during 2002.

Leaders of the Major Parties

Bernard Landry is the leader of the Parti Québécois and Premier of Quebec going into the 2003 general election. He was born in March 9, 1937, in Saint-Jacques-de-Montcalm, Quebec. He studied law at the Université de Montréal and economics and finance at the Institut d’études politiques in Paris. He helped found the Parti Québécois in the 1960s and was first elected to Quebec’s National Assembly in 1976. Mr. Landry was appointed deputy premier in 1994 and finance minister in 1996. He became leader of the Parti Québécois and premier of Quebec in 2001. Mr. Landry has three children.

Jean Charest is the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party and leader of the Official Opposition in Quebec’s National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) going into the 2003 election. He was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on June 24, 1958. Mr. Charest earned a law degree at the University of Sherbrooke and was called to the Quebec bar in 1981. He was elected to the federal House of Commons in 1984 as a member of the federal Progressive Conservative Party. Following the 1995 Quebec sovereignty referendum, Mr. Charest left federal politics. In 1998, he became leader of the Quebec Liberal Party and was elected to the Quebec Assemblée Nationale.

Mario Dumont is leader of the Action démocratique du Québec for the 2003 general election. He was born May 19, 1970, in Cacouna, Quebec. In 1993, he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Concordia University in Montreal. He first entered politics in 1986 as a member of the youth commission of the Quebec Liberal party; in 1988, he was elected to its executive body, and later became chairman in 1991. In 1994, following a split with the Liberal Party leadership on the Charlottetown Accord issue, Mr. Dumont quit the Liberals and helped found the Action Démocratique du Québec. He became leader of the ADQ in April 1994 and was elected to the Quebec Assemblée Nationale.

2003 Party Election Platforms

The following provides a comparison between the three major political parties on three key election issues: family, health care, and the economy.

 

Parti Québécois

Liberal Party

Action démocratique

Family

- Maintain public daycare
- Four-day work week for parents with children aged 12 and under.
- Increase the number of allowed family days from three to four weeks.

- Maintain public daycare program with more private centers.

- Expand public daycare program.
- Increase the number of allowed family days from two to four weeks.

Health

- Maintain public health care.
- Invest hundreds of millions of dollars on community clinics, home care and reducing waiting lists for surgery.

- Maintain public health care with some private services.
- Invest $7.5 billion over five years to hire more doctors and nurses and shorten waiting times.

- More private-sector health care clinics.
- Shorten emergency rooms waiting times.

Economy

- Economic growth through subsidies to business, increased job training and running a zero-deficit budget.

- Economic growth through fiscal responsibility and moderate tax cuts.

- Economic growth through paying down the debt, large tax cuts, and large cuts to public service.


2003 Quebec Election Results

Liberal Party wins a majority government

The Liberal Party won a majority government, with 76 of 125 seats in Quebec’s National Assembly. As a result, Liberal leader Jean Charest became the new Premier of Quebec. The Liberal win ended nine years of Parti Québécois rule, and was the first time the Party has been elected to government since 1989. The Parti Québécois came in second, winning 45 seats in the legislature, a drop of 31 seats from the 1998 general election. The upstart Action démocratique du Québec beat its 1998 seat totals, winning 4 seats in the legislature (in 1998, the Party only won one seat).


Sources and Links for More Information

Lists of links for more on this topic

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