Churchill River Voters Choose Harrison

Tuesday, June 29, 2004 at 14:10



Northern Saskatchewan has a new Member of Parliament.


The Conservatives’ Jeremy Harrison emerged as the winner in the hotly-contested Churchill River riding last night with 7,279 votes, which was over 14-hundred votes more than his closest competitor — the Liberals’ Al Ducharme.


Incumbent MP and independent candidate Rick Laliberte finished a distant 4th in voting, with 1,924 votes.

The NDP’s Earl Cook placed 3rd, roughly 2-thousand votes ahead of Laliberte, but about 19-hundred votes behind Ducharme.


Most of Harrison’s support came from the riding’s larger centres like La Ronge, Meadow Lake, as well as rural communities in the riding’s southern fringe.


However, Harrison picked up relatively few votes in northern Aboriginal communities — something Harrison says won’t stop him from representing those communities as best he can.


Meantime, Ducharme feels northern First Nations and Metis communities fell victim to a northern Aboriginal vote split between himself, Cook and Laliberte.


He also feels those communities will have to rally around one solid candidate in the next election.


For his part, Laliberte doesn’t feel he was responsible for the vote split.


Cook agrees there was a vote split amongst the riding’s Aboriginal candidates last night, but doesn’t feel Laliberte’s presence played a large role in that.


However, Cook says last night’s results prove that the North doesn’t want anything to do with Laliberte’s vision of a territorial government for the North.


Laliberte feels northerners will embrace his idea over time, and is not ruling out a return to federal politics.


Meantime, despite an intriguing battle in the riding, voting numbers in Churchill River were well down from the figures recorded in the 2000 vote.


Elections Canada reports that 19,497 voters cast valid ballots last night, compared to 23,574 in 2000.


That represents a drop of over 41-hundred votes or 17 per cent.