Why you are the most qualified person to represent this region?
Luc Ferland, who represented the Parti Québécois in Quebec’s National Assembly from 2007-2014, is a well-known figure throughout the region. After losing his provincial seat last year, Ferland is looking to represent the region once again, this time on a federal level under Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe.
Outside of the National Assembly, his accomplishments include stints as the Director General of the Conseil régional de développement de la Baie-James as well as Director General of the localité de Joutel. He also presided over the regional committee for des Jeux du Québec en Abitibi-Baie-James.
“I’ve been a public servant in the area for over 35 years,” said Ferland. “I’ve also worked on many notable projects with the Cree communities.”
Over the course of his career, Ferland helped to institute the Eeyou Eenou Police Force, and played a role in the creation of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government, which gave the Cree expanded powers over lands and resources in their territory.
“That was something that really important to me, to be a part of developing a common vision that respected all cultures and traditions in the region,” said Ferland. “I know the economic aspects of this riding and I understand the needs of the different populations that inhabit the riding. When it comes to the election campaign at hand, I am a first choice candidate.”
What can the Bloc Québécois specifically do for the region?
Although the Bloc Québécois lost a great deal of its support to the NDP in the last federal election, Ferland is confident his party will have a strong showing in October.
“Support often changes in politics, and just as often changes back,” said Ferland. “You only have to look to the ’90s when the Conservatives went from a majority government to having only two seats in the house, and now they hold a majority again.”
The Bloc have enjoyed a resurgence in support since the return of party leader Duceppe, but whether or not that will translate into new seats on election day remains to be seen. Ferland says he offers constituents real advocacy in the House of Commons.
“The current government hasn’t made any real effort to improve the lives of the people I want to represent,” he said. “It’s a long campaign, and I’m confident that people will give us their support because we are the party that will do the most for them in Ottawa.”
What can you do for the Cree specifically?
Ferland says one of the biggest issues on his agenda is housing improvements in Cree communities.
“There is a flagrant lack of housing, especially affordable housing, across the communities,” said Ferland. “There are so many questions related to economic development in these communities, and the federal government has been completely absent.”
Ferland says that federal support for industry in the North is seriously lacking, and that change needs to come.
“The federal government needs to help our enterprises, to better invest in infrastructure like roads, airports and rails so that economic opportunities can reach our Northern communities,” said Ferland. “And of course, all development would happen under the agreement of Cree people and the other populations in the riding.
Anything else you would like to add?
“The issues at stake here are all extremely important – economic, social and cultural development. It takes someone in Ottawa who will defend the interests of the people they represent here in the North, notably the Cree people. As a representative I would be both present in Ottawa, and present in the territory.”