'Harper awoke a sleeping giant': First Nations break election records
Nicole Gibillini, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, October 20, 2015 2:58PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 21, 2015 1:52PM EDT
Monday’s election was historic for Canada’s First Nations community, which saw 10 indigenous MPs elected.
Winners included Liberals Vance Badawey, who was elected in Niagara Centre, and Yvonne Jones, who was re-elected in Labrador.
The election also saw a record-breaking 54 indigenous candidates run for office.
Each candidate ran in one of the 51 swing ridings identified by Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, where he said the aboriginal vote could make a difference between a majority and minority government.
Among the major Conservative upsets Monday night was Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, who was ousted by Liberal candidate Rene Arsenault in his New Brunswick riding of Madawaska-Restigouche.
On Tuesday, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson, of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, spoke at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in Winnipeg about the election results.
North Wilson congratulated the Liberal Party on their victory and said MKO was happy with the turnout. She estimated that more than 11,000 new voters went to the polls in northern Manitoba on Monday.
“We have to say our people got engaged, got involved, and they were tired of what they were seeing in the last six years especially,” North Wilson said.
At least five first nations reportedly needed extra ballots brought in to accommodate the numbers.
"In other southern communities, we are told there was, in fact, ballots that ran out," said Wilson.
There was also an uptick in participation on reserves. Numbers are traditionally very low, but voting was up by as much as 20 per cent in some ridings.
Nepinak expressed his excitement about the turnout.
“It’s a really great day because so many people went out to put their words into action,” he said. “So many of our indigenous people across the country recognize that to participate in a Canadian federal election does not compromise their sovereignty.”
While efforts were made to mobilize First Nations voters through a "Rock the Vote" campaign, Manitoba's Grand Chiefs believe the huge response can be attributed solely to a desire to oust Stephen Harper from office.
"I believe that Mr. Harper, when he was prime minister, awoke a sleeping giant in our people, and that giant is awake," said Wilson.
"The new Liberal majority government under Mr. Trudeau is going to have to deal with a giant in the indigenous people of these lands."
Trudeau has promised to boost aboriginal education by $1.6 billion, and provide an additional $200 million for employment training.
But the top priority for Manitoba's Grand Chiefs is an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
Throughout the election campaign, a number of First Nations leaders, especially Bellegarde, encouraged their communities to vote. There was a 44-per-cent aboriginal voter turnout in 2011, but Bellegarde and other First Nations leaders expected a much higher turnout for Monday’s election.
“There was a lot of excitement on the ground,” Bellegarde told CTV News Monday as election results came in. Bellegarde said First Nations leaders across Canada arranged for buses to bring people living on reserves to polling stations, making it easier for them to vote.
Bellegarde said his next step as national AFN chief will be to build a relationship with the new prime minister, but noted: “Before you build relationships, you must build respect, collaboration, co-operation.”
Below is a list of the 51 swing ridings, identified by the AFN, and the candidate and party who won them. The letter ‘I’ identifies whether the candidate was an incumbent. There were 24 wins for the Liberals, including 17 gains, nine wins for the Conservatives, 16 for the NDP, and two for the Bloc Québécois.
- Labrador –Yvonne Jones, Liberal (I)
- Long Range Mountains - Gudie Hutchings, Liberal
- Dartmouth-Cole Harbour - Darren Fisher, Liberal (gain)
- Kings-Hants – Scott Brison, Liberal (I)
- Sydney-Victoria - Mark Eyking, Liberal (I)
- Abitibi - Baie-James – Nunavik - Eeyou – Romeo Saganash, NDP (I)
- Avignon-La Mitis-Matane-Matapedia – Remi Masse, Liberal (gain)
- Becancour-Nicolet-Saurel - Louis Plamondon, BQ, (I)
- Gasp.-Iles-de-la-Madeleine – Diane Lebouthillier, Liberal (gain)
- Longueuil – Saint-Hubert – Pierre Nantel, NDP (I)
- Louis- Saint-Laurent – Gerard Deltell, Conservative (gain)
- Manicouagan – Marilene Gill, BQ (gain)
- Montmagny – L’Islet – Kamouraska– Bernard Genereux, Conservative (gain)
- Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing – Carol Hughes, NDP (I)
- Brantford-Brant – Phil McColeman, Conservative (I)
- Kenora – Bob Nault, Liberal (gain)
- London North Centre – Peter Fragiskatos, Liberal (gain)
- Mississauga-Malton -- Navdeep Bains, Liberal (gain)
- Niagara Centre – Vance Badawey, Liberal (gain)
- Nipissing-Timiskaming – Anthony Rota, Liberal (gain)
- Sault Ste. Marie – Terry Sheehan, Liberal (gain)
- Scarborough-Guildwood – John McKay, Liberal (I)
- Thunder Bay-Superior North – Patty Hajdu, Liberal (gain)
- Timmins-James Bay -- Charlie Angus, NDP (I)
- Churchill-Keewatinook Aski – Niki Ashton, NDP (I)
- Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa -- Robert Sopuck, Conservative (I)
- Elmwood- Transcona – Daniel Blaikie, NDP (gain)
- Winnipeg Centre -- Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Liberal (gain)
- Winnipeg North – Kevin Lamoureux, Liberal (I)
- Winnipeg South Centre – Jim Carr, Liberal (gain)
- Battlefords-Lloydminster – Gerry Ritz, Conservative (I)
- Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill - Georgina Jolibois, NDP (gain)
- Prince Albert- Randy Hoback, Conservative (I)
- Regina-Lewvan – Erin Weir, NDP (gain)
- Regina-Qu’Appelle - Andrew Scheer, Conservative (I)
- Regina-Wascana – Ralph Goodale, Liberal (I)
- Saskatoon West – Sheri Benson, NDP (gain)
- Edmonton Griesbach – Kerry Diotte, Conservative
- Cariboo-Prince George - Todd Doherty, Conservative
- Courtenay-Alberni – Gord Johns, NDP (gain)
- Cowichan-Malahat-Langford – Alistair MacGregor, NDP (I)
- Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon - Jati Sidhu, Liberal (gain)
- Nanaimo-Ladysmith – Sheila Malcolmson, NDP (gain)
- Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke – Randall Garrison, NDP (I)
- Skeena-Bulkley Valley – Nathan Cullen, NDP (I)
- South Okanagan-West Kootenay – Richard Cannings, NDP (gain)
- Surrey Centre - Randeep Sarai, Liberal (gain)
- Surrey-Newton –Sukh Dhaliwal, Liberal (gain)
- North Island-Powell River – Rachel Blaney, NDP (gain)
- Yukon – Larry Bagnell, Liberal (gain)
- Northwest Territories – Michael McLeod, Liberal (gain)
With files from CTV’s Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon