PQ retains hold on Ungava riding

Luc Ferland beats Liberal Aline Sauvageau by more than 1,000 votes


The Ungava riding, which includes Nunavik, stayed with the Parti Québécois during the March 26 Quebec election.

PQ candidate Luc Ferland won 4,555 of 11,126 votes cast, beating his closest contender, Liberal Party candidate Aline Sauvageau, by more than 1,000 votes.

Ferland received about 41 per cent of the riding’s votes. Sauvageau won 32 per cent, or 3,577 votes, and Action Démocratique du Québec candidate Jacques Cadieux won 21 per cent, or 2,363 votes. The rest of the riding’s votes went to Gilbert Hamel of the Québec Solidaire party.

Sauvageau did extremely well in Nunavik, where she picked up 61 per cent of the votes. She also won a similarly large percentage in the Cree communities.

But in the Ungava riding more than half the population is Québécois, and Sauvageau needed a good turnout in the Cree and Inuit communities to win.

However, only about 36 per cent of the eligible voters voted in Nunavik. Overall in Ungava, the turn-out was 46.47 per cent.

In the southern portion of Ungava, the turnout reached 57 per cent in Chibougama. There, Sauvageau was hurt by the province-wide rejection of the Liberal Party, which lost more than 20 seats.

Ferland picked up 1,851 votes in Chibougamou, while Sauvageau received only 457 votes, in third place behind the ADQ candidate, Jacques Cadieux, who received 772 votes.

Ferland, formerly the right-hand man for the long-time PQ member and minister Michel Létourneau, also had an edge because he comes from Chibougamou.

In a pre-election interview with Nunatsiaq News, Ferland, who has visited Nunavik many times, also showed a good knowledge of the region. Ferland said he would continue to work for the northern Quebec’s economic development and encourage more collaboration between his 39,000 Québécois, Cree and Inuit constituents.

However, Ferland’s party, the PQ, won’t be in as strong a position to help Nunavik as they were before the election. That’s because the PQ lost its role as the official opposition to the ADQ, and voter support for the PQ has dipped to its lowest level in more than 30 years.

The results of Monday’s election saw the Liberals with 48 seats and 33 per cent of the total vote, the ADQ with 41 seats and 31 per cent of the vote, and the PQ with only 36 seats and 28 per cent of the vote. The left-wing Québec Solidaire and the Green Party each received four per cent of the vote.

The ADQ sprung up from only five seats in the last election in 2003, at the expense of the Liberals, who lost 24 seats, and the PQ who lost nine.

However, Geoffrey Kelley, the Liberal minister for native affairs, won his seat of Jacques-Cartier on Montreal’s West Island handily. He received 22,003 votes – about 18,000 more than his nearest rival, an ADQ candidate. Kelley will presumably continue as the minister for native affairs.

The election’s results mean Quebec will have its first minority government in more than 125 years.

Speaking late Monday evening to supporters, party leaders André Boisclair of the PQ and Mario Dumont of the ADQ attributed the election shake-up to a desire for change.

“A message of change echoed throughout Quebec,” a jubilant Dumont said, whose conservative platform included a call for privatized health care and cash bonuses for families with more than two children and preschoolers not in subsidized child care.

After an election showing a three-way split among voters, Charest vowed to work on uniting all citizens of Quebec.

But many observers say following this week’s election, the future of Boisclair – and even of Charest, who barely held on to his own seat – is up in the air.

One thing is certain: Quebec will not face another referendum on sovereignty soon, as the Liberals support federalism and the ADQ want more autonomy within Canada for Quebec.

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