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Dumont’s departure could signal the end of an era

by Archives March 3, 2009

The Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) as we knew it is no more.
The departure of ADQ founder and leader Mario Dumont all but confirms that the party will have to go into a massive rebuilding mode if it is to survive and remain relevant in the province. In the best of worlds they will succeed, as diversity in government is never a bad thing.
The party that was considered by many to be a one-man show under Dumont, will become faceless once he vacates his seat in the National Assembly on March 6. Few would have foreseen such a turn of events before the party was decimated in December’s provincial election.
The ADQ shocked the pundits in the 2007 election when they won an 41 seats, up from four in the previous election, to form the official opposition. The Parti Québécois finished third in the election in one of their worst showings ever. But the ADQ’s tenure as official opposition was short-lived. Many now consider their rise to have been “flash in the pan”; the result of protest votes against the Liberals and the PQ. ADQ MLAs were criticized for their lack of experience, the party didn’t live up to expectations as official opposition.
The ADQ’s massive collapse during the 2008 election is similar to the Progressive Conservative Party’s showing in the 1993 federal election when they won only two seats. The party never really recovered and eventually merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the modern day Conservative Party.
In the absence of Dumont, the ADQ will likely face a similar fate. The results were so bad that the ADQ lost official party status, which means a significant reduction in revenue. And with the diminished seat count, the party will have much less influence and sway in the province than it did only a short time ago.
The ADQ’s complete demise would mean that the right of centre voting options for Quebeckers is now limited. The party acted as a buffer between federalists and sovereigntists; their policy of autonomy for Quebec within Canada and it’s playing down of the prospects of another referendum held broad conservative appeal. This meant the party could court many within the province who were not comfortable standing alongside the Liberals or the PQ. Their poor electoral showing has given new life to the Parti Québécois and their nationalist agenda.
Mario Dumont was a well-known leader on the Quebec political scene for a number of years; his departure means that Quebec politics has lost one of its most entertaining and charismatic figureheads (albeit for now) and a death sentence for the party in which he helped found.
Au revoir ADQ, you will be missed.

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