New CAQ party names candidate for Nunavik’s Ungava riding
Summer campaign could send Nunavik voters to the polls
The centre-right Coalition Avenir Québec has named accountant Stéphane Robichaud as its candidate for Ungava in a Quebec election widely expected to be called this summer, the party said July 12 in a communiqué.
Robichaud runs a business start-up firm in the Montreal south shore suburb of La Prairie, and has worked as an auditor in such northern Quebec communities as Kuujjuarapik, Puvirnituq, Umiujaq, Mistissini and Chibougamau.
Saying he’s an “experienced manager” and “excellent analyst,” Robichaud said he would put up a “good fight” in the upcoming election.
“The future depends on acquisition of expertise. We must act in order to maximize productivity to create wealth to benefit all. Every minute counts and every move must have excellence as its target,” Robichaud said.
Describing himself as “perfectly bilingual,” Robichaud said that “all Ungava electors deserve to have equal access to their representatives” and may use French or English to communicate with him.
“Feel free to use any medium you wish, audio, video, etc.,” Robichaud said.
The huge Ungava electoral district comprises Nunavik, the James Bay Cree territory, and many non-aboriginal people, known as Jamésiens, concentrated in towns like Chibougamau, Lebel-sur-Quévillon and Chapais in the southern section of the riding.
The incumbent MNA, Luc Ferland, is latest in a long line of PQ politicians who have held the seat since 1981. In 2008, Ferland took 47.3 per cent of the vote to regain the riding.
On a visit to Kuujjuaq in November 2010 with his party leader, Pauline Marois, Ferland promised to pressure the federal government into helping pay for 1,000 social housing units that Nunavik leaders demand for the region.
Ferland has also lambasted Ottawa’s Nutrition North Canada program.
The Coalition Avenir Québec entered the political arena in November 2011, when François Legault, a former Parti Québecois cabinet minister, and Charles Sirois, a businessman with close ties to the Quebec Liberal party, announced its creation.
Legault is now the coalition’s leader.
In their position statements, the coalition promises to reduce Quebec’s massive long-term debt and to reinvigorate the province’s sluggish economy by promoting entrepreneurship, education and greater efficiencies in government.
“The success of the economic policy of a country depends on the dynamism and creativity of its workers and its entrepreneurs and its ability to encourage its growth,” the coalition said in an economic policy statement.
The party describes itself as nationalist and “autonomist” but not sovereignist and promises to set aside the question of Quebec’s constitutional future at least until after the province’s economic and financial problems are fixed.
The coalition leader recently launched a big pitch for votes in the predominately anglophone ridings of Montreal’s West Island, stressing that his party is opposed to another referendum on Quebec sovereignty.
“I plan to be in politics for the next 10 years and — we will never be a separatist party. Just look at our name. It’s called a coalition,” Legault told the West Island Gazette earlier this month.
Their small caucus in the Quebec national assembly comprises nine MNAs, all of whom are disaffected former members of the Parti Québecois and the Action démocratique du Québec.
Recent opinion polls show Jean Charest’s governing Liberals and Pauline Marois’ PQ are tied in popular support at 32 per cent each, with Legault’s coalition party trailing in third place at 21 per cent.
Charest, whose government has been battered by construction industry corruption scandals and a student union revolt against tuition fee increases, has yet to call an election.
But many observers now speculate that he will opt for a summer campaign, with a vote to be held Sept. 4.