Jean-François Lisée has stepped down as leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ).
Once a powerhouse of the Quebec sovereignty movement, the PQ lost its official party status Monday night as its seat count plunged to less than a dozen.
“This was not the result we were hoping for,” Lisée said.
He made the announcement shortly after he lost his own riding of Rosemont — a longstanding party stronghold — to Québec Solidaire’s Vincent Marissal on Monday.
“The verdict in Rosemont also puts an end to the best job I’ve ever had, leader of the Parti Québécois,” Lisée told supporters.
While the PQ was the Official Opposition heading into the election, the party lost a lot of ground as the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) made history, ousting the Liberals from power and gaining a majority government for the first time since its creation in 2011.
The CAQ ran on a centre-right platform and distinguished itself by vowing to not introduce an independence referendum, but to fight for Quebec within the national structure.
The PQ, for its part, retained only nine seats across the province by the end of the evening — the lowest total seat count since the party was formed in the 1970s.
Bittersweet end for Lisée
Lisée won Rosemont in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014. Under Pauline Marois’s short-lived PQ government, Lisée acted as minister of international relations, the Francophonie and external trade. He was also the minister responsible for the Montreal region.
Lisée won the PQ leadership race in 2016 after media mogul Pierre-Karl Péladeau stepped away from politics for family reasons.
WATCH: Parti Quebecois elects Jean-François Lisée as new leader
However, Lisée trailed in the polls heading into Monday’s election, though he said he relished being an underdog and wasn’t worried about the polls.
Lisée has been a controversial figure at times, suggesting PQ “start a discussion” on the ban on burqa and niqab in public during PQ’s leadership race. He also proposed building a fence on Quebec’s sourthern border to block crossings by irregular migrants.
Both Lisée and Marisal share a background in journalism, though from different generations. They had first met in 1990 when Marissal was a young reporter and Lisée a high-profile political analyst. Marissal later became a columnist for the newspaper La Presse.
Lisée has accused the socialist Quebec Solidaire of being a “Marxist” party that wants to nationalize all industries in the province.
The area of Rosemont has traditionally been a PQ stronghold. The party has held the seat for 24 years.
—with files from The Canadian Press