Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, head of the pro-separatist Parti Québécois (PQ) suffered an embarrassing loss in general elections on Monday, leading her to announce that she would be stepping down from leadership of the party.
The pitiful results in the polls put an end to the party's proposed Bill 60, known as its "Charter of Values," which sought to ban religious symbols, such as the Jewish kippah (skullcap), in public workplaces, reports Shalom Toronto.
The Liberal party, which was replaced by Marois 19 months ago, reclaimed its leadership position by gaining 70 electoral seats out of a total of 125, and winning 41% of the popular vote. The results are expected to allow the party to form a stable government for the next four years.
By contrast, PQ won a mere 30 seats, losing 10% of its political presence. The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) won 22 seats, and Quebec Solidaire obtained three seats.
Marois called for the elections on March 5, in an attempt to gain a majority in the parliament to advance her party's call for a referendum as to whether or not Quebec should split from Canada. Another major facet of her party's position was an anti-religious push for institutionalized secularism, reminiscent of France.
In contrast, the Liberal party in election campaigns emphasized its neutrality on the issue of religion, focusing on financial issues such as improving the job market and reducing taxes.
A new focus on unity, not separatism
In his victory speech, Liberal party head Philippe Couillard said Quebec residents now needed to focus on what united them, and to feel proud to be residents of the province.
Sending his congratulations, Canadian Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau said residents of Quebec had voted for a stronger economy, and against a third referendum on the issue of separatism from Canada.
Two weeks ago Trudeau claimed to an Iranian-Canadian newspaper that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's foreign policy, which is supportive of Israel, was merely an effort to pander to the Jewish vote. The comments come in advance of the 2015 Canadian prime ministerial elections.
B'nai Brith Canada welcomed the Liberal party's victory, after the "most divisive" elections campaign in the province's history. The group expressed its hopes that the new Liberal party government would fight anti-Semitism in Quebec.
Anti-Semitism has been rife of late, with Louise Mailloux of PQ recently promoting a classic anti-Semitic accusation of a "kosher tax," a conspiracy theory alleging that money collected to certify that food meets the standards of Jewish law goes to "Zionist causes" and enriches the Jewish community.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) slammed political leaders in Quebec last Tuesday for not condemning the anti-Semitic comments, noting the fallacy of the conspiracy theory given that the cost for kosher certification is a "miniscule fraction" of the total costs of production.