Peter Penashue
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
In office
May 18, 2011 – March 14, 2013
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Preceded byJosée Verner
Succeeded byDenis Lebel
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Labrador
In office
May 30, 2011 – March 14, 2013
Preceded byTodd Russell
Succeeded byYvonne Jones
Personal details
Born (1964-04-09) April 9, 1964 (age 59)
Sheshatshiu, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Political partyConservative
ProfessionInnu leader, businessman
CabinetMinister of Intergovernmental Affairs
President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
WebsiteOfficial website

Peter Penashue, PC (/pɛˈnæʃw/; born April 9, 1964) is a Canadian politician from Newfoundland and Labrador. He was elected as the Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament for the riding of Labrador in the 2011 federal election.[1] Penashue was the first Innu from Labrador to be elected to the House of Commons of Canada and the first Innu cabinet minister in Canadian history. He was also the first centre-right MP to be elected from the riding of Labrador since 1968, and only the second ever to win it since Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada in 1949.[2]

Following allegations of irregularities in his campaign spending, Penashue announced on March 14, 2013 that he would resign and seek to regain his seat in a by-election.[3][4] In the resulting by-election, held on May 13, 2013, he was defeated by Yvonne Jones of the Liberal Party.[5] He unsuccessfully ran again in the riding in the 2015 federal election.


Penashue was born in the Innu community of Sheshatshiu, Newfoundland and Labrador. His mother Elizabeth is an author.[6][7] He attended elementary and secondary school in Sheshatshiu before continuing his education in St. John's, where he graduated from Brother Rice High School and pursued studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Penashue assumed a number of leadership roles in the Labrador Innu community, from Land Claims Director, Executive Director and Financial Administrator with the Naskapi Montagnais Innu to Grand Chief of the Innu Nation.

Penashue was elected President of the Innu Nation at the age of 26, and served as Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, for twelve years, from 1990 to 1997 and 1999 to 2004, and was the driving force behind the negotiation of the impacts-benefit agreement between the Innu Nation and the Voisey's Bay Nickel Company. He was also elected to the position of Deputy Grand Chief of the Innu Nation in Sheshatshiu in 2007 and stepped down on March 9, 2010.[8]

Federal politics

Penashue was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in the 2011 Canadian federal election, in the riding of Labrador. Penashue's challenger, Liberal incumbent Todd Russell, had originally been declared by the media as retaining his seat early on election night but after the last five polls were counted Penashue overtook Russell and was ultimately declared the winner.[2] Penashue's original margin of victory of 231 votes was reduced to 79 votes on recount.[9]

Penashue was one of two Innu in Parliament. Jonathan Genest-Jourdain, the New Democratic MP from the neighbouring riding of Manicouagan in Quebec, was the other.[10]

Cabinet Minister

Penashue was the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada from May 18, 2011 until his resignation on March 14, 2013.

2011 election campaign irregularities and aftermath

Penashue's campaign took 28 ineligible campaign contributions totaling $27,850 in cash and $18,710 in in-kind contributions from Provincial Airlines for services provided. Elections Canada deemed the contributions ineligible and Penashue's campaign was forced to pay $26,850 on November 28, 2012 and $18,710 on March 4, 2013 to the Receiver General of Canada.

After the 2011 election the Peneshue campaign had $4000 but still owed $15,000 from a $25,000 zero interest loan to the Innu Development Limited Partnership, a firm managed by his brother-in-law, Paul Rich. Interest free loans are not allowed by Canadian election law. In November 2012, the Conservative Party transferred $30,000 to the campaign and a further $14,350 on March 1, 2013.[4][11][12]

On March 14, 2013, Penashue resigned from Parliament. At the same time, he announced he would seek to return to his old seat via a by-election.[3][4] In the resulting by-election, held on May 13, 2013, he was defeated by Yvonne Jones of the Liberal Party.[5]

In July 2015, seven companies acknowledged that they made illegal donations to Penashue's 2011 election campaign. Penashue's official agent in the 2011 campaign, Reg Bowers, has been charged with three counts of accepting illegal corporate contributions under the Canada Elections Act.[13] Penashue stated he feels badly for his former official agent.[14]

On September 3, 2015, Penashue was nominated as Conservative candidate in his former riding in the 2015 Canadian federal election, again running against Yvonne Jones.[15] He lost by a margin of over 50% and was pushed into third place.

Penashue later served as one of two Innu Nation representatives on the Independent Expert Advisory Committee examining health concerns surrounding the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.[16]

Electoral history

2015 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Yvonne Jones 8,878 71.75 +23.76
New Democratic Edward Rudkowski 1,779 14.38 –4.81
Conservative Peter Penashue 1,716 13.87 –18.53
Total valid votes/Expense limit 12,373 100.0     $204,293.51
Total rejected ballots 53 0.43 –0.42
Turnout 12,426 62.39 +4.40
Eligible voters 19,917
Liberal hold Swing +14.28
Source: Elections Canada[17][18]

Canadian federal by-election, 13 May 2013: Labrador
Resignation of Peter Penashue, 14 March 2013
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Yvonne Jones 5,812 47.99 +8.92 $76,859.63
Conservative Peter Penashue 3,924 32.40 −7.41 $70,866.91
New Democratic Harry Borlase 2,324 19.19 −0.64 $81,475.53
Libertarian Norman Andrews 50 0.41   $236.16
Total valid votes/expense limit 12,110 100.0   –   $ 89,852.84
Total rejected, declined and unmarked ballots 27 0.22 −0.26  
Turnout 12,137 59.93 +6.49  
Eligible voters 20,251      
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +8.17
Source: "By-election May 13, 2013". Elections Canada. May 13, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013.

2011 Canadian federal election: Labrador
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Peter Penashue 4,256 39.81 +31.84 $89,997.05
Liberal Todd Russell 4,177 39.07 −31.21 $30,016.49
New Democratic Jacob Larkin 2,120 19.83 +1.98 $29,968.41
Green George C.R. Barrett 139 1.30 −2.61 $0.00
Total valid votes/expense limit 10,692 100.0   –   $84,468.09
Total rejected, declined and unmarked ballots 52 0.48 −0.37
Turnout 10,744 52.91 +14.31
Eligible voters 20,305
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +31.52
Conservative candidate Peter Penashue was found to have spent above the mandated expense limit, precipitating his resignation and subsequent by-election.
Sources:[19] [20]


  1. ^ "Penashue appointed to federal cabinet". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  2. ^ a b "Innu leader delivers Conservatives from N.L. shutout". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2011-05-02. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  3. ^ a b "Peter Penashue quits over campaign donations". CBC News. March 14, 2013. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  4. ^ a b c Payton, Laura (March 15, 2013). "Peter Penashue campaign took in 28 ineligible contributions". CBC News. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  5. ^ a b "Liberals take Labrador, as Jones wins big over Penashue". CBC News. May 13, 2013. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  6. ^ "Innu elder's book, I Keep the Land Alive, a keepsake for future generations | CBC News".
  7. ^ "Proud of son, but he's wrong: MP's mom". CBC News. 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2023-02-11.
  8. ^ "Peter Penashue joins Conservative push into Labrador". Northern Pen. 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-05-18.
  9. ^ "Penashue margin of victory reduced". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2011-05-09. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  10. ^ Akin, David (May 18, 2011). "A style note: Aboriginal vs Indian, Metis, Inuit and Innu". Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  11. ^ "Penashue offers few details on campaign spending". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2012-08-14. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  12. ^ O'Malley, Kady. "CBC News Politics - Peter Penashue and the Mystery of the Moribund Riding Association". CBC News Politics. CBC News Politics. Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  13. ^ "Peter Penashue, Ex-Tory MP, Made Illegal Deals With 7 Companies". The Canadian Press. 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  14. ^ "Penashue feels terrible for former agent now facing elections charges". NTV. 2015-09-04. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  15. ^ "Peter Penashue to run in Labrador riding in federal election". CBC News. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  16. ^ "'Risky experiment' to remove topsoil from Muskrat Falls reservoir, says Innu nation". CBC News. April 14, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  17. ^ "October 19, 2015 Election Results — Labrador (Validated results)". Elections Canada. 23 October 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  18. ^ "Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates". Archived from the original on 2015-08-15. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
  19. ^ Elections Canada – Official voting results, Forty-first general election, 2011
  20. ^ Elections Canada – Candidate's electoral campaign return, 41st general election
28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper Cabinet posts (2) Predecessor Office Successor Josée Verner President of the Privy Council2011–2013 Denis Lebel Josée Verner Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs2011–2013 Denis Lebel