New Democrats take Nunavut, while Bloc secures Nunavik in a federal election shakeup

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, from Baker Lake, is Nunavut’s new member of Parliament.

By Nunatsiaq News - October 22, 2019
Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who will serve as Nunavut’s next MP after winning the territory’s riding last night, is seen here speaking to supporters at the launch of her campaign in Iqaluit on Sept. 12. (Courtesy NDP via Nunatsiaq News)

The New Democratic Party’s Mumilaaq Qaqqaq is Nunavut’s new member of Parliament.

Qaqqaq, a 25-year-old political newcomer, ended up winning the territory’s riding with a healthy lead of 3,717 votes, or 41.2 percent of the vote, according to the latest results from Elections Canada.

The Liberals’ Megan Pizzo-Lyall placed next, with 2,798 votes, or 31 percent.

The Conservatives’ Leona Aglukkaq, a political veteran and former federal cabinet minister, was next with 2,327 votes, or 25.8 percent.

And the Greens’ Douglas Roy won 189 votes, or 2.1 percent.

These numbers aren’t final: As of 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, Elections Canada’s website still didn’t have reports from four of the territory’s 59 polls. But Qaqqaq’s lead is big enough that her victory is secure.

Voter turnout in the territory is estimated to have been 48.38 percent, or 9,031 of 18,665 registered voters. That doesn’t include voters who registered on Election Day.

Qaqqaq hails from Baker Lake and most recently worked as an Inuit employment officer with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. She ran her campaign on promising youthful change.

“I’d like to thank all of my supporters tonight,” she wrote on Facebook. “This has been an amazing journey and now we are here! To Megan Pizzo-Lyall and Leona Aglukkaq, you both ran great campaigns and I thank you for putting your name out there, it takes a lot of courage to do that.

“It was an honour to run for this seat against two strong Inuit women. Thanks to everyone who supported me through this from voters, to volunteers, to my friends and family. I’m looking forward to getting to work in Ottawa. Mat’na.”

As results came in on election night, Aaron Watson, who worked on Qaqqaq’s campaign, said their team had worked hard to encourage young Nunavummiut to get out and vote.

“We really worked on getting the youth vote out. We knew that the NDP and Jagmeet were into getting the youth vote out and taking the lead on youth issues,” he said.

“Lately climate and housing have been major issues all over Canada but especially in Nunavut. So having a strong candidate like Mumilaaq really augmented that momentum,” he added.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Aglukkaq thanked her family and the volunteers who worked on her campaign.

“I’d like to send my congratulations to Mumilaaq,” she said. “Nunavummiut have spoken and I know that you’ll do your best for your territory, serving with passion and heart.”

On election night, Aglukkaq had gathered at the Grind and Brew café in Iqaluit with a small group of supporters to watch the results come in.

The room was mostly quiet, with Aglukkaq looking intently at the television screen while Liberals slowly began to rack up seats in the Atlantic provinces.

Supporters snacked on country food while some paced around the small café, looking at their cell phones.

Faces dropped when it was announced the Liberals would make up the next government, but Aglukkaq was still smiling as the room waited to hear what would happen in Nunavut.

As it became more obvious that Aglukkaq may not win the seat, supporters exchanged hugs.

The Bloc wins back Nunavik

The Bloc Québécois’ Sylvie Bérubé won the riding that encompasses Nunavik with 10,904 votes, or 37.7 percent of the vote.

Isabelle Bergeron with the Liberals placed next, with 8,125 votes, or 28.1 percent.

The Conservatives’ Martin Ferron was next, with 4,792 votes, or 16.6 percent.

The NDP’s Jacline Rouleau received 3,446 votes, or 11.9 percent.

The Green Party’s Kiara Cabana-Whiteley received 1,006 votes, or 3.5 percent.

The People’s Party’s Guillaume Lanouette received 341 votes, or 1.2 percent.

And the Radical Marijuana Party’s Daniel Simon received 311 votes, or 1.1 percent.

These numbers, from 178 of 197 polls, are also not final.

Voter turnout in the riding is estimated to have been 28,925 of 64,651 registered voters, or 44.74 percent.

Elsewhere in Canada’s northern regions, incumbent Liberal MPs held onto seats in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Labrador — albeit with smaller margins of victory than in 2015.