Quebec's Legault vows to be premier for all but has limited backing in Montreal

Quebec’s Premier Francois Legault speaks at the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) provincial election night party in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Quebec Premier Francois Legault made a fresh pledge to work for all Quebecers after a landslide election victory on Monday in the wake of a divisive campaign that promised to cap immigration and protect the French language.

But Legault's pledge to be a leader for all Quebecers faces challenges, analysts say, after his party was nearly shut out of Montreal, the Canadian province's largest metropolis.

Legault, the leader of Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), extended an olive branch to the predominantly French-speaking province's English-language minority, along with immigrants after his larger-than-expected victory.

"When I say that Quebecers form a great nation I mean all Quebecers, from all regions, of all ages, of all origins," Legault told his supporters late on Monday. "I'm going to be the premier of all Quebecers."

Legault tackled the immigration issue, arguing that all parties in Quebec support new arrivals.

"There is no party that rejects immigration." Legault has promised to cap immigration at 50,000 per year.

Montreal, the province's economic and cultural metropolis, remains largely a stronghold of the opposition Quebec Liberals.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, said it will be a challenge "to reconcile you as the premier of all Quebecers" given that CAQ has limited representation in Montreal, Quebec's most diverse region.

"Even though Legault does not have a lot of seats in Montreal he needs to be credible," added Leger pollster executive Christian Bourque.

Legault was re-elected to a second term after promising to cut taxes to offset higher living costs.

He apologized last month for awkwardly linking newcomers to Quebec with extremism and warned last week that bringing in immigrants who did not speak French would be "suicidal."

(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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