Candidates take aim at Quebec's largest riding

·3 min read
Kuujjuaq is one of several communities in Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, the largest and northernmost riding in Quebec. Seven candidates are vying to represent the riding in this year's federal election. (Juanita Taylor/CBC - image credit)
Kuujjuaq is one of several communities in Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, the largest and northernmost riding in Quebec. Seven candidates are vying to represent the riding in this year's federal election. (Juanita Taylor/CBC - image credit)

It's Quebec's largest riding, one that's nearly the size of Pakistan, stretching from Val d'Or in the south to the Hudson Strait in the north.

Even though Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou includes the Cree territory of Eeyou Istchee and the Inuit region of Nunavik, it wasn't represented by an Indigenous person until Cree lawyer Romeo Saganash captured the seat for the NDP in the Orange Crush election of 2011.

Saganash didn't run in 2019 and Sylvie Bérubé won the seat back for the Bloc Québécois, becoming the first woman to represent the riding. She's running again.

"It was an easy decision [to seek a second term]," she told Radio-Canada. "Yes, we experienced a challenge with the pandemic, which hit a few months after our arrival in Ottawa, but we were able to adapt to continue the work in the riding. I realize that life as a member of Parliament is demanding and hectic, but I am fine with it."

Incumbent facing 7 opponents

Among Bérubé's opponents is Lise Kistabish, a former executive director of the Pikogan Band Council and currently the First Nation's director of training, employment and social development.

"The Liberal Party approached me and it rekindled a long-standing desire to be in politics," she told Radio-Canada. "I have over 25 years of experience as a manager of the Aboriginal public service, at the local and regional levels. I am very familiar with the workings and services of the federal public service. For me, it's a logical step in my career path."

The Conservatives are running Steve Corriveau, a former tourism worker from Val d'Or. Corriveau said he was inspired to get into politics by Conservative leader Erin O'Toole.

"I have always been concerned with contributing to the happiness of the people around me," he told Radio-Canada. "I am also used to jumping into the void. When Erin O'Toole spoke about the importance of having Quebeckers in government, I thought to myself, 'why not?' This is a project that is close to my heart. I want to make a difference."

Pauline Lameboy, a Cree woman from Chisasibi, is running for the NDP.

"Ten years ago, when [former NDP leader] Jack Layton launched his message to work with Indigenous people and not for Indigenous people, that hit me. It was the first time that I had heard someone at the political level say that. And when Roméo Saganash was elected, I was really proud because it was the first time that an Eeyou had a seat and I felt very represented," Lameboy told Radio-Canada.

Lameboy is currently working in an organization that helps Cree women. She also co-founded a support organization for people with cancer in Chisasibi.

She said her priority issues will be home ownership and improving the cellular network.

Green Party candidate Didier Pilon wants to put environmental issues and social justice at the centre of his campaign.

"Through my research, I was won over by the principles of the Green Party, which puts the planet and people ahead of multinationals and profits," he told Radio-Canada.

"I have been aware of environmental issues since I was very young, but I discovered politics later and it became my passion. I want to fight for the interests of people and the planet.This is what prompts me to get up every morning."

Pilon said he plans to use social media to reach voters across the sprawling riding.

Other confirmed candidates include Cédric Brazeau of Free Party Canada, Michaël Cloutier for the People's Party of Canada and Jimmy Levesque of the Marijuana Party.

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