Federal election 2019: NDP newcomer Mumilaaq Qaqqaq heading for victory

Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party is projected to lose its majority but still keep enough seats to form a government

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From top left, Green Party candidate Douglas Roy and Liberal candidate Megan Pizzo-Lyall. From bottom left, NDP candidate Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq. NNSL file photos

Nunavut voters appear ready for change as 25-year-old Mumilaaq Qaqqaq of the NDP took an early lead election night and held onto it all evening long.

With 39 of 59 polls reporting, Qaqqaq has staked out a substantial lead 2,044 votes (38.4 per cent) compared to 1,647 votes (30.9 per cent) cast for former federal cabinet minister Leona Aglukkaq and the Conservatives, 1,536 ballots (28.8 per cent) in favour of Megan Pizzo-Lyall and the Liberals and 100 votes (1.9 per cent) for Douglas Roy and the Green Party.

Qaqqaq rose to prominence after delivering a speech on suicide in the House of Commons in 2017. She has been a youth leader with Northern Youth Abroad, and has worked for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Government of Nunavut and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

Sources are reporting that Qaqqaq was watching the election in her home community of Baker Lake, Pizzo-Lyall is in Rankin Inlet and Green candidate Roy is in Kimmirut.

Nunavut News visited an NDP gathering at the Iqaluit legion hall late on election night where 30 to 40 party faithful had gathered.

Aaron Watson, the Nunavut NDP electoral association president, was cautious about declaring victory.

“We won’t know until more polls are in but we are happy to say the trend seems to indicate we will win this riding.”

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In Nunavut, polls closed at 9:30 p.m. ET.

There are 18,665 registered voters in the territory, according to Elections Canada.

Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq enters the Grind and Brew cafe and greets her supporters. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo
Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq watches the election coverage with her niece Saskia Curley. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

The Conservatives’ Agulkkaq, who just came back from Cape Dorset around noon Oct. 21, was watching the election at at Iqaluit’s Grind and Brew cafe.

She is trying to regain her seat after losing it to Liberal Hunter Tootoo in 2015, but the comeback appeared unlikely as Qaqqaq continued to gain ground throughout the evening.

Elisapee Shetiapik and her husband Brian Twerdin were waiting for the election results at the Grind and Brew cafe in Iqaluit on election night.

The crowd was fairly small at the Grind and Brew cafe. About a dozen Conservative supporters were waiting for her to make an appearance.

When Nunavut News asked, Elisappe Shetiapik how she was feeling, she replied, “Anxious to find the results now that the polls are closed.”

Her husband Brain Twerdin replied, “I’ve been through a lot of elections, so I’m feeling OK.”

Liberals poised to form minority government

Nationally, the Liberals have won or are leading in 155 ridings, the Conservatives in 122, the Bloc Quebecois in 32, the NDP in 25, the Green Party in three and an independent candidate in one.

The Liberals are poised to form a government again, but a reduced number of seats means they will be forming a minority government this time around.

This means Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will need the support of the NDP or the resurgent Bloc Quebecois to pass legislation in the House of Commons.

When the first polls in the country began to roll in from the 32 ridings in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals took the lead in 25 ridings, compared to Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, who led in just seven, and Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats, who were on the board with one.

As results started to roll in across Quebec and Ontario, the plight of the NDP appeared bleak as the support they hoped to sap from the embattled Liberals didn’t materialize. Qaqqaq’s apparent victory appears to be one of the few bright spots for a party that is expected to lose 15 seats from the 39 it held before the election.

There are 338 seats in the House of Commons, 170 are needed for a majority.