Three days after facing a devastating loss, Liberal candidates – both those re-elected and those defeated, gathered for a post-mortem in Quebec City.
“First and foremost we’re going to have to take a long hard look in the mirror and see how did things go wrong,” said Greg Kelley, Liberal MNA in Jacques-Cartier.
“The English-speaking community does not appear to have voted with great enthusiasm and that will require us to do a careful examination,” said David Birnbaum, Liberal MNA in D’Arcy-McGee.
The meeting took place just hours after Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard announced he was stepping down as leader and leaving political life.
“He’s a phenomenal person and I had the privilege to work by his side,” said Filomena Rotiroti, Liberal MNA in Jeanne-Mance-Viger.
In a speech at the National Assembly, Couillard said it was for others in the party now to take up the torch.
He ended his speech, saying, “Vive Québec, a French territory in North America! With immense territories, magnificent landscapes, it is so rich in resources, but especially in talent. It is the land of my ancestors and of newcomers… fertile land of hope, resilience and freedom.”
“He was inspiring this morning. He’s a very good man, I will miss him, and for me he was a very, very good leader,” said Christine St-Pierre, Liberal MNA in Acadie. She also served as Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women during Jean Charest’s government.
WATCH: Philippe Couillard talks about immigration in his speech
Some in caucus, such as Saint-Laurent MNA Marwah Rizqy have shown support for St-Pierre as interim leader, but she didn’t want to talk about the possibility yet.
“This is the day of Mr. Couillard, I’m not answering this question,” said St-Pierre.
“In my opinion, for the first time we have 50 per cent of the MNA’s who got elected are women. I think it’s time that we have a woman who’s going to lead the Liberal Party,” Rizqy said.
She also says the party needs to reconnect with its base.
“I spoke with all my friends who are about my age, and they told me one thing: ‘we know the Quebec Liberal Party is the economic team, but we want them to be more green,'” Rizqy said.
“I’m going to be part of the renewal of the party, that’s for sure. And we will have to present some new ideas for the party. We will have to do it with a different way of communicating to Quebecers,” said André Fortin, MNA in Pontiac.
The former transport minister didn’t rule out running for leader.
Other contenders for the top job could be Quebec City MNA and former education minister Sébastien Proulx, as well as Montreal MNA in Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne and former economy minister, Dominique Anglade.
When asked if she could see herself as leader, she didn’t answer.
“Today is the day we say goodbye to Philippe Couillard,” she said.
The Liberal caucus will meet again Friday morning, also in Quebec City, where they are likely to vote for an interim leader.
Besides St-Pierre, other names being discussed are former health minister Gaétan Barrette and former treasury board president Pierre Arcand.