MONTREAL – Dominique Anglade has become the first Black woman to lead a provincial political party in Quebec after her only opponent in the Liberal leadership race dropped out.
Anglade, 46, a former cabinet minister who represents the Montreal riding of Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne, was acclaimed leader on Monday after former Drummondville mayor Alexandre Cusson, withdrew his candidacy earlier in the day.
She officially succeeds former premier Philippe Couillard, who resigned following the 2018 provincial election, and has become the Quebec Liberals first Black leader in the party’s 151-year history.
Anglade, an industrial engineer, was born in Montreal to Haitian parents,
“I am proud to become the first female leader of a party that has always been at the forefront of economic and social progress,” Anglade said in a statement.
“Now is the time to dare to build a Quebec that is proud of its roots, is inclusive and modern. The work begins now and it is together, dear members, that we will build tomorrow.”
Anglade drew support from many current and former Liberals as well as from the province’s business community, but she faced criticism from within the party for being too Montreal-centric.
Cusson, with his connections outside the big cities, was considered the candidate better able to attract voters outside the Liberals’ Montreal power base.
He said on Facebook that he resigned as mayor to run for the Liberal leadership, but the race has been suspended indefinitely since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he has been left without a source of income.
“Faced with this dilemma, I had to make a heartbreaking choice. I therefore announce that I will no longer be in the running for the leadership … when the party relaunches the race.”
Anglade was a founding member of the Coalition Avenir Québec, and ran unsuccessfully for the party in the 2012 election, before eventually joining the Liberals.
She left the CAQ, she said, because she disagreed with the party’s views on identity and immigration.
Anglade said that under her leadership, the Liberal will focus on the environment and the economy.
“We will also be a strong opposition who, in this public health crisis, will question the government without respite and will propose solutions in the name of all Quebecers,” she added.