She announced the decision Monday morning to reporters, adding that she is also stepping down as the MNA for the Montreal riding of Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne effective Dec. 1.
The 48-year-old politician said that her resignation comes after personal reflection, and that it was for the “good of the party.”
“Having in mind the interests of Quebec and the good of the party, I have informed the party president of my resignation as the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party,” Anglade said.
Anglade managed to hold onto her seat and the party kept official opposition status in the Oct. 3 election, but it wasn’t a comeback for the Liberals.
The party captured the lowest share of the popular vote in its history, winning just 21 of the legislature’s 125 seats — down from 31 in the 2018 election. The Liberals received fewer votes than Québec solidaire and the Parti Québécois.
Daniel Béland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, described the results as a “catastrophe” for the party, with a poor performance by the Liberals outside of its Montreal strongholds.
“I don’t think she has been very successful as a leader, but she inherited a party that already suffered major problems,” he said.
After a hard campaign and crushing election results, Anglade’s leadership has been questioned in the five weeks that followed.
The Quebec Liberals were quickly caught up in internal strife after she ejected Marie-Claude Nichols from caucus following a disagreement over shadow cabinet roles. Anglade changed course and asked Nichols to return, but she refused to do so and said the Liberal leader was unable to to properly lead the party.
In her short term as leader, Anglade was the first woman of colour to lead the Liberals and at the helm of a provincial political party. She took the top job in May 2020, after she became the only candidate in line for the position.
Anglade was first elected in 2015 after she won in a byelection for the Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne riding. She served as economy minister in the government of former premier Philippe Couillard.
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Quebec Premier François Legault took to social media to “acknowledge the commitment and dedication” of Anglade, who previously served as president of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ). She also sought her first seat in the national assembly under the CAQ banner in 2012, but lost the byelection.
“It takes courage to get into politics. It takes determination to be in politics. It takes humility to leave,” Legault wrote on Twitter. “Thank you Dominique!”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante also praised Anglade’s dedication, thanking Anglade for her years of public service.
“Through her work and her involvement, she showed women that it was possible to aspire to the highest political office,” she said.
‘Orchestrated campaign’ to oust Anglade?
David Birnbaum, the former Liberal MNA for D’Arcy-McGee who recently retired, said “there was clearly something of an orchestrated campaign to have Dominique’s leadership come to an end.”
He feels Anglade earned the right to lead the Liberals — even if others within the party didn’t feel that way. Birnbaum said he is “disappointed” many in the party felt otherwise.
“I was saddened, but not surprised by the decision Dominique made, which was realistically and sadly the only one available to her,” he told Global News. “I’m really proud of her.”
Birnbaum said that while Anglade made mistakes along the way, she deserved the chance to help the party begin to “renew itself” but that she “made the only decision she could.”
As the Quebec Liberals prepare to find a new leader, experts say they have some much-needed soul searching ahead. Members have to debate the party’s future and identity, according to Béland.
“Now it’s about what’s the Liberal Party of Quebec, really? What does it stand for? How does it position itself moving forward?” he said.
Birnbaum, for his part, contends there is “tons of work to be done” within the party that goes beyond its leadership.
— with files from The Canadian Press