Disappointed Dumont vows to keep fighting
By JEFF GRAY
Globe and Mail Update
Tuesday, Apr. 14, 2003
Action Démocratique du Québec Leader Mario Dumont told a crowd of supporters in Rivière-du-Loup that he would keep fighting for the party's conservative economic policies.
"We will keep listening. We will keep improving our policies. We will keep explaining why we think Quebec would be better off with the ADQ," Mr. Dumont said in French Monday night, thanking party workers and voters for their support.
The party, which has argued for smaller government, tax cuts, and a bigger role for the private sector in health care, won just four seats in Monday night's election, but earned 19 per cent of the popular vote.
Mr. Dumont went into the election with five seats and high hopes.
Observers were speculating that Quebec could be about to see its first three-way election race and one in which the sovereignty debate would be overshadowed by battles over health care, education and the economy.
For a while, the ADQ looked like a real force. Last spring, the party now nine years old was riding high, topping opinion polls and winning four by-elections to bring its seat total in the National Assembly to five.
But things quickly appeared to go sour as the campaign got under way. There were logistical problems, reports of a $1-million fundraising shortfall, and new polls that showed the party slipping into a distant third.
The ADQ had attracted superstar candidates such as former Montreal mayor Pierre Bourque, but it did not translate into enthusiasm on the campaign trail. For his part, Mr. Bourque kept an extremely low profile, reportedly because of a rift with the leader. He lost his race Monday night.
The party's biggest asset remained its youthful leader and co-founder. Mr. Dumont, 32, joined the provincial Liberals at 17, then split with the party over constitutional issues and became the ADQ Leader at just 24.
The ADQ won just one seat in the National Assembly in 1998 Mr. Dumont's.
He vowed last night to stay at the party's helm.