Romeo Saganash

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Romeo Saganash
Romeo Saganash Vancon 2011.jpg
Saganash speaking to the 2011 convention of the New Democratic Party in Vancouver, British Columbia
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou
Assumed office
May 2, 2011
Preceded by Yvon Lévesque
Deputy Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees
In office
1990 – 1993[1]
Grand Chief Ted Moses
Personal details
Born Diom Romeo Saganash[2]
(1961-10-28) October 28, 1961 (age 54)
Waswanipi, Quebec, Canada
Political party New Democratic Party
Residence Quebec City
Alma mater Université du Québec à Montréal
Profession Lawyer

Diom Roméo Saganash, MP (born October 28, 1961) is a Canadian politician and the Member of Parliament for the Quebec riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou.[3] He is a member of the New Democratic Party and was first elected in the 2011 federal election, succeeding Yvon Lévesque of the Bloc Québécois. He was reelected on October 19, 2015.

Early life[edit]

Saganash was born on October 28, 1961 in Waswanipi, a native community in Quebec.[3] At the age of seven, he was among 27 Cree children taken from their homes to attend French-language schooling in La Tuque, while living with an English-speaking Anglican family.[4] The program was cancelled the following year, but he remained there for ten years, completing his schooling in French.[5] After that, he attended a meeting on the negotiations between the Cree and Government officials on constitutional and resource rights, which sparked his interest in pursuing a law degree. He attended law school at the Université du Québec à Montréal and in 1989 he became the first Cree to receive a law degree in Quebec.[6] Saganash is fluent in Cree, French and English.[7]


Saganash at the 2012 NDP leadership convention in Toronto.

In 1985, Saganash founded the Cree Nation Youth Council.[8] He was the Vice-Grand Chief to The Grand Council of the Crees of James Bay from 1990 to 1993,[2] and he later became director of Quebec relations and international affairs for over ten years.[9] From 1997 to 2000, Saganash chaired the James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment.[8]

As a prominent Cree figure in a riding with many aboriginal voters, Saganash received personal support from NDP Quebec lieutenant Thomas Mulcair, who referred to Saganash as a "very important candidate".[9] He was elected in the 2011 federal election to represent Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou.

On Friday September 16, 2011, Saganash announced that he was running for the leadership of the NDP, to succeed Jack Layton.[10] He is believed to be the first aboriginal leader to run for the leadership of a major Canadian party.[7] He announced his withdrawal on February 9, 2012, citing illness in his family and a lack of confidence in his campaign.[11] On March 7, 2012, Saganash announced that he would support Mulcair for NDP leader.[12]

After an incident where he was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal to Val-d'Or for intoxication, Saganash took sick leave in October of 2012 for the treatment of alcohol dependency. Saganash cited the death of his "friend and mentor" Jack Layton, as well as the "profound scars" he received while in the residential school system as the reasons for his dependency.[13] He completed his treatment in November 2012, and returned for the start of the House's first session of 2013.[14]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
New Democratic Roméo Saganash 12,778 37.0 -7.82
Liberal Pierre Dufour 11,094 32.1 +21.63
Bloc Québécois Luc Ferland 6,398 18.5 +0.23
Conservative Steven Hébert 3,211 9.3 -13.25
Green Patrick Benoît 779 2.3 -1.59
Rhinoceros Mario Gagnon 258 0.7
Total valid votes/Expense limit 34,518 100.0     $247,074.94
Total rejected ballots 609
Turnout 35,127 55.55
Eligible voters 63,226
New Democratic hold Swing -14.73
Source: Elections Canada[15][16]
Canadian federal election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
New Democratic Romeo Saganash 13,961 44.79 +36.59
Conservative Jean-Maurice Matte 7,089 22.74 -7.63
Bloc Québécois Yvon Lévesque 5,615 18.02 -21.63
Liberal Léandre Gervais 3,282 10.53 -7.89
Green Johnny Kasudluak 1,221 3.92 +0.58
Total valid votes 31,168 100.00
Total rejected ballots 480 1.51
Turnout 31,684 53.69
New Democratic gain from Bloc Québécois Swing +29.11

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bryden, Joan (November 3, 2011). "Saganash questions validity of NDP signature policy on Quebec secession". Winnipeg Free Press. Canadian Press. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Q & A: Diom Roméo Saganash". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Cree politician Romeo Saganash". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Patrick, Donna (2003). Language, politics, and social interaction in an Inuit community. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter. p. 218. ISBN 3-11-017652-1. 
  5. ^ Marcelino, Don (2000). Le voyage sacré amérindien. Année 2000, regard amérindien sur l'Europe (in French). ISBN 2-910677-39-7. 
  6. ^ House of Commons Debates: Official Report Volume 2. Ottawa: Queen's Printer. 1989. 
  7. ^ a b Authier, Philip (September 17, 2011). "Saganash announces bid for NDP leadership". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved September 17, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "About Romeo Saganash". New Democratic Party. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Dougherty, Kevin (March 31, 2011). "Popular Cree leader running for NDP". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved May 3, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Romeo Saganash says he will run for the NDP leadership". Winnipeg Free Press. Canadian Press. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ Canadian, Press (February 9, 2012). "Saganash to bow out of NDP leadership race, announcement Friday". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  12. ^ Authier, Philip (March 7, 2012). "Romeo Saganash backs Thomas Mulcair for NDP leadership". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  13. ^ Payton, Laura. "NDP MP Saganash taking sick leave to treat alcoholism". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  14. ^ Cohen, Tobi (16 January 2013). "Romeo Saganash returns from rehab, NDP MP happy to be back at ‘crucial’ time for aboriginals". Postmedia News. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, 30 September 2015
  16. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates

External links[edit]