Re-elected Ungava MNA Luc Ferland pledges PQ support for Nunavik
Plan Nord will move forward in a different way “with the people who are involved"
Nunavik’s high cost of living, lack of housing and need for more training programs are among the challenges that Luc Ferland, the newly-relected Parti Québécois MNA for the Ungava riding, says he’ll tackle in his third term.
Ferland was re-elected Sept. 4, winning 4,854 votes of the 10,882 cast, or 44 per cent of the vote. He’ll join 53 other PQ MNAs who will form Quebec’s new PQ minority government.
“We would have liked to see a majority government,” said Ferland, reached by Nunatsiaq News early Sept. 5. “But we’re in power, and we’ll be able to put programs and polices in place, with respect to the follow-up of Plan Nord.”
The PQ won’t scrap Plan Nord, the 25-year development scheme of Jean Charest’s defeated Liberals.
But Plan Nord will move forward in a different way, “with the people who are involved,” Ferland said.
And the PQ will put more focus on Plan Nunavik, the region’s response to Plan Nord, he said.
Incoming premier Pauline Marois may consider Ferland, who has served as the opposition critic for northern development and aboriginal affairs, for a cabinet post in her new government.
That’s “a big question,” said Ferland, adding that the answer will come from only one person — Marois.
“If she calls me to serve as a minister, I would be very pleased, but whether or nor I am a deputy or a minister, we will start discussions with Nunavik leaders to make sure issues advance,” said Ferland, who plans to visit Nunavik as soon as possible.
Among his other priorities: working towards a separate riding for Nunavik, which now shares the sprawling Ungava riding with communities in the Abitibi and James Bay regions.
“Until then I will continue to work for everyone,” Ferland said.
On Sept. 4, Ferland won by 1,153 votes over Gérald Lemoyne of the Liberal party who received 3,701 votes. The CAQ’s Stéphane Robichaud received 1,176, the QS’s Sylvain Couture, 655 votes, and the Option Nationale’s Dominic Hamelin-Johnston, 298 votes.
During the evening of Sept. 4, Ferland listened to the early election returns at his Chibougamau home.
Within an hour after the polls closed at 8 p.m., it was clear he would keep his seat.
The speed of the win surprised Ferland, even more so because many of those early returns came from the northern portions of Ungava.
The break-down of how each community in the Ungava riding voted is not yet available, but fewer than half of all voters in Ungava turned out to vote.
For Ferland, his win was nevertheless “a sweet victory.”
That’s despite his concern over what he called the “tragic and disturbing” incident during the PQ’s Sept. 4 celebration party in Montreal, which left one man dead and two others injured.