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François Legault leads Coalition Avenir Québec to majority as Liberals ousted from power

Following their victory in the Quebec election, CAQ party leader Francois Legault said he will give Quebecers a government 'more human, with the heart in the right place but their two feet on the ground.'

François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) will form the next majority government in Quebec, marking a first victory for the party and a stunning defeat for the Liberals.

Standing on stage, a beaming Legault told the ecstatic crowd that Quebecers chose hope by electing a new government and ousting the Liberals.

“Today we made history,” Legault said. “Today many Quebecers set aside a debate that divided us for 50 years.”

The CAQ, which has positioned itself as centre-right of the spectrum, is also the first new party to take power in the province since 1976.

READ MORE: Here are 5 key promises made by the CAQ

The party held a commanding lead soon after the polls closed, with the incumbent Liberals in second place and the Parti Québécois (PQ) tied for third with Québec Solidaire

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The province’s outgoing premier, Philippe Couillard, said he had spoken to Legault to congratulate him. In a speech at party headquarters, the Liberal leader said he would take a few days to consider his future in politics.

“I am not bitter — I am proud,” he said.

WATCH: MNA for Montarville Natalie Roy reacts to the CAQ’s majority government win

Quebec Election: Voters said they wanted real change – CAQ’s Natalie Roy
Quebec Election: Voters said they wanted real change – CAQ’s Natalie Roy

The CAQ won with 74 ridings — well above the 63 seats required for a majority. The Liberals took home only 32 ridings.

READ MORE: Live coverage of the Quebec election

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has congratulated the CAQ for its majority win in Monday’s provincial election.

“I look forward to working with Premier Legault to make Quebec, a province we are all proud of, an even better place to live,” he said.

An era of change

Legault, a former PQ cabinet minister, founded the party in 2011 as a nationalist third-way between the sovereignist PQ and the federalist Liberals.

Over the 39-day election campaign, Legault promised to usher in an era of change. He stood firm on his immigration proposals in the wake of criticism from his opponents and voters alike.

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Legault advocated to decrease the number of immigrants coming to Quebec from 50,000 to 40,000. His proposal includes implementing controversial values and language tests for newcomers after three years.

READ MORE: What does a CAQ win mean for Quebec immigration?

During his victory speech, Legualt struck a conciliatory note.

“The election is over now, let’s start working together for the benefit of all Quebecers,” he said.

WATCH: Trudeau says he congratulated Legault, will speak with him over immigration

Legault also took a moment to reassure the province’s English-speaking minority.

“Let’s work together to make Quebec stronger within Canada,” he said. “I want to assure you that my government will be your government.”

Despite being a new party, the CAQ has a core of experienced MNAs after having won 19 seats in 2012 and 22 seats in 2014.

WATCH: Legault addresses Quebec’s English-speakers

Quebec Election: Legault tells Anglophones ‘my government will be your government’
Quebec Election: Legault tells Anglophones ‘my government will be your government’

Québec Solidaire gains ground as PQ suffers blow

Québec Solidaire, the left-leaning party led by Manon Massé and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, has boosted its presence by securing 10 ridings across Quebec. Both Massé and Nadeau-Dubois won their respective Montreal ridings.

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“I am so, so proud of us, so proud of the campaign we led,” Massé said. “Today our movement is bigger, stronger.”

The party more than doubled its seats. It had a total of three seats at the legislature’s dissolution.

READ MORE: Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée steps down after losing own riding of Rosemont

Quebec Election: Global News analyzes PQ Loss
Quebec Election: Global News analyzes PQ Loss

The PQ, for its part, suffered a massive blow on Monday night with party leader Jean-François Lisée, losing his own riding to Québec Solidaire and the party losing its official status.

He stepped down shortly after the announcement.

“This was not the result we were hoping for,” said Lisée.

Supporters of Québec Solidaire react as they watch election results at the headquarters of Manon Massé in Montreal.
Supporters of Québec Solidaire react as they watch election results at the headquarters of Manon Massé in Montreal. Peter McCabe/The Canadian Press

–With files from Global’s Shakti Langlois-Ortega and The Canadian Press

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