Duhaime, who was seeking to enter the national assembly for the first time, lost to incumbent Sylvain Levesque of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), who are projected to win a second majority government.
In a speech to supporters Monday night, Duhaime said he was proud of what his party accomplished during the election, painting the campaign as a battle of David against Goliath.
He compared politics to hockey, saying this election was only the end of the first period, with the second period starting Tuesday as the party prepares for the next campaign.
The Conservatives rose in the polls by harnessing the public’s anger toward COVID-19 restrictions, but by the end of the night it was clear that anger would not translate to any seats.
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The party’s lone seat before the election, held in Iberville by former CAQ MNA Claire Samson, swung back to the CAQ on Monday. Samson had chosen earlier this year not to seek re-election.
Earlier in the day, Duhaime credited his party for “raising the turnout” among voters who don’t normally vote to cast a ballot.
Under Duhaime, the Conservative Party of Quebec has grown from winning less than two per cent of the popular vote in 2018 to polling in the mid-teens. Despite not winning any seats, the party managed to grow its vote share to 13.1 per cent on Monday.
The other party leaders fared better: beyond CAQ Leader Francois Legault, Quebec Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade and Quebec solidaire co-spokespeople Manon Masse and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois were all re-elected to their Montreal-area ridings. The Liberals will remain the official opposition in the national assembly.
Parti Quebecois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon also won his seat in the Montreal riding of Camille-Laurin, defeating incumbent CAQ MNA Richard Campeau.
—With files from the Canadian Press