Romeo Saganash

Aboriginal MP Romeo Saganash Announces Candidacy for Layton's NDP Seat

ICTMN Staff
9/16/11

First he grieved his mentor. Now he will honor the late New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton by attempting to succeed him.

Romeo Saganash, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Abitibi–Baie-James–Nunavik–Eeyou, will run in the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) election to fill the seat that Layton left vacant when he died of cancer on August 22 at age 61.

He will run against Brian Topp in the party’s March election, The Star reported. Others considering a run include Thomas Mulcair, Libby Davies, Nathan Cullen, Peter Julian, Peggy Nash, Niki Ashton and Megan Leslie, The Star said.

Although there are seven aboriginal MPs, two of them cabinet ministers, Saganash would be the first Opposition leader from indigenous Canada. Elected for the first time in May—a win against longstanding incumbent Quebecois Bloc MP Yvon Lévesque of Quebec in a run he credits Layton with inspiring—Saganash is considered a rookie legislator, though he has extensive legal experience as an attorney who served as liaison between the Cree and the Quebec governments.

At least 800 people had joined a Facebook page urging him to run.

Saganash’s people spoke highly of him after he announced his candidacy at a press conference in Val-d'Or, Québec.

"Today's announcement by Romeo Saganash marks yet another important step in assumption by the Crees of Eeyou Istchee of a leadership role in the political life of Canada,” said Deputy Grand Chief Ashley Iserhoff of the Grand Council of the Crees, in a statement. “Mr. Saganash possesses a wealth of experience in federal and provincial government and political relations. He has deep knowledge of the issues and challenges facing the aboriginal people of Eeyou Istchee, Québec and Canada. He has strong relations with all the communities of his riding, both aboriginal and Francophone, and he serves them all with distinction."

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