Parti Quebecois steamrollers to power
On November 15, 1976, in an election result that stunned event Rene Levesque, the Parti Quebecois swept to power with 69 seats to the Liberal's 28 and the Union National's 11. Liberal Premier Robert Bourassa lost his own seat. The Parti Quebecois position included both separatism and association with the rest of Canada.
Quebec would leave Canada to gain political sovereignty, or independence in all domestic and foreign affaires. Sovereignty, however, would be accompanied by an economic association with English-speaking Canada. Of the three former federal MPs who switched to provincial politics to help stern the PQ tide, only Bryce Mackasey won a seat. "It's not the end of the world", he said. "Life will go on tomorrow.
We are still a long way from separation". It was his party moderation that lost the election, Bourassa said. "It is more and more difficult in modern societies to take a middle-of-the-road approach". Others attributed his defeat to the scandals and the financial crises that have plagued his government and to the Parti Quebecois playing down separatism in favour of economic and social issues. Outside the Province of Quebec, reaction ranged from caution to shock.
In a prepared statement, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said, - "We must conclude that the people of Quebec did not vote on constitutional but on economic and administrative issues. New Brunswick Premier Richard Hatfield was upset by the Parti Quebecois victory. Former Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood predicted however the PQ will provide "good government perhaps the best Quebec has had in quite some time".
Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney said the PQ may force Ottawa to be more responsive to the provinces' needs. Leonard Jones, an independent from Moncton who has often voiced anti-French views, said it was time the rest of Canada called Quebec's bluff and invited it to separate.
On November 24, 1976, nine newly elected members of the Parti Quebecois government swore their allegiance to the queen. These nine members of the National Assembly were the first to be sworn in. They quietly took the oath in the Assembly before the chief clerk.
The Premier Rene Levesque was sworn the next day, and a day later the new cabinet was introduced.