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Electoral officer to investigate after Quebec riding flips from Liberal to PQ in recount

A Quebec elections ballot box is shown at an advance polling station in Montreal, Monday, March 31, 2014.
File photo of a Quebec election ballot box. Quebec's chief electoral officer has launched an investigation after a recount flipped the riding of Gaspé from Liberal to PQ. Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Quebec’s chief electoral officer has launched an investigation into possible irregularities after a judicial recount found a Liberal declared the winner Oct. 1 in fact lost to his Parti Québécois rival.

Suspicions were raised when election-night results showed one polling station in the riding of Gaspé had reported all 194 votes for Liberal candidate Alexandre Boulay. Boulay was initially declared the winner by a margin of 132 votes.

READ MORE: Recount lands Parti Québécois a 10th National Assembly seat

Wednesday’s recount found it was the PQ’s Meganne Perry-Melancon who had won by a 41-vote margin.

“The integrity of the electoral process is the base of our electoral system and requires that we act swiftly and with rigour,” chief electoral officer Pierre Reid said in announcing his investigation.

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The result puts the PQ in a tie with Québec solidiare with 10 seats. But the PQ becomes the second-ranking opposition party — after the Liberals — because it received a greater share of the popular vote than Quebec solidaire.

READ MORE: What Liberal losses in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick mean for Justin Trudeau in 2019

There is one more recount to come next week in the northern Quebec riding of Ungava, which the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) candidate won by 44 votes over the PQ.

As it stands, the CAQ has 74 seats in the legislature, followed by the Liberals who now have 29 seats.

There is one Independent and one vacant seat, created by the resignation of outgoing Liberal premier Philippe Couillard.

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Philippe Couillard thanks his wife during emotional speech
Philippe Couillard thanks his wife during emotional speech