Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik March 05, 2014 - 12:16 pm

Quebeckers head back to the polls April 7

Ungava MNA Luc Ferland — who represents Nunavik — will run again

SARAH ROGERS
Quebec premier Pauline Marois steps off a plane in Kangiqsualujjuaq during her first official visit to the region last September, followed by Ungava MNA Luc Ferland and Alexandre Cloutier, minister responsible for the Nord-du-Québec region. (FILE PHOTO)
Quebec premier Pauline Marois steps off a plane in Kangiqsualujjuaq during her first official visit to the region last September, followed by Ungava MNA Luc Ferland and Alexandre Cloutier, minister responsible for the Nord-du-Québec region. (FILE PHOTO)

After weeks of speculation, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois called a provincial election that will send Nunavimmiut back to the polls April 7.

The Quebec election will happen only 19 months after the province’s last election on Sept. 4, 2012, which shut out then-premier Jean Charest and his Liberals and handed the Parti Québécois a minority government.

That minority government held 54 of the 125 seats in Quebec’s national assembly, followed by the Liberal’s 49 seats, the Coalition Avenir Québec’s 18 seats, Québec Solidaire’s two seats as well as two independently-held seats.

After a year and a half in power, Marois told reporters March 5 that her party’s only choice was to call a spring election, after opposition parties blocked the PQ’s recent budget.

It’s not yet clear whose names will appear on ballots in Ungava, the Quebec riding that includes Nunavik.

But a call to Ungava MNA Luc Ferland’s officer confirmed that he’ll be running to keep his seat.

The Parti Québecois MNA was first elected in Ungava in 2007, and again in the 2008 and 2012 elections.

While the PQ government spent 2013 re-acquainting itself with many of Nunavik’s files, the minority government managed to deliver, at least in part, on many of the promises it made to voters in Quebec’s far North.

In her first official visit to the region last September as premier, Marois pledged her government’s participation in a Quebec-Nunavik social justice roundtable, called Saqijuq, committing to help tackle the region’s social woes.

Quebec’s PQ government joined forces with Makivik Corp. last October, calling on the federal government to pay for a catch-up program to build enough housing in Nunavik to end the region’s housing crisis.

And Quebec ended 2013 by more than doubling the region’s cost of living subsidies for the next three years.

But Nunavik’s list of demands have far from been answered, while the region waits on support for a broadband network and better mechanisms to preserve its Inuit language and culture, among other things.

All of that was spelled out during last year’s Parnasimautik consultations, which will develop a blue print for the region to be presented to the Quebec government later this year.

If past elections are any indication, however, Nunavimmiut will not make much noise around this April vote.

Fewer than one on three Nunavimmiut cast a ballot in the 2012 election — less than the 31.3 per cent turn-out throughout the Ungava riding, the lowest in Quebec.

And of those who did vote, nearly half of Nunavimmiut voters supported the Liberals, who lost the provincial election.

About 18 per cent of Nunavik ballots went to the PQ, compared to 47 per cent for the Liberals. Fifteen per cent voted for Québec Solidaire — whose 2012 candidate Sylvain Couture worked for years as a doctor in Salluit — and 11 per cent for the CAQ.

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