How will Layton's new MPs take to Ottawa?
Published Tuesday, May 3, 2011 10:25PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:39AM EDT
While NDP Leader Jack Layton fought his way to historic highs in the 2011 campaign, the real work is only beginning for the political veteran, analysts say.
With dozens of new MPs and the increased responsibility of holding a veteran group of Conservatives to account, the NDP leader will certainly have his work cut out for him.
A few weeks ago, the NDP were fourth nationally, with only 37 seats in Parliament. Today, they are the Official Opposition with 102 seats.
Many candidates who were elected in Quebec likely believed they didn't even have a shot at winning, since some "didn't have campaign offices or signs," said McGill University political expert Antonia Maioni.
Take Pierre-Luc Dusseault, a 19-year-old student of applied politics at the Universite de Sherbrooke, who becomes the youngest ever MP to sit in Parliament.
Then there is the now-infamous example of Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who was elected in central Quebec, despite the fact that she spent a week in Las Vegas during the campaign. The NDP has also admitted that Brosseau doesn't speak French fluently and has never done a media interview. She also wasn't in her riding when she was declared the winner.
Her father says he's as surprised as anyone else by her win.
"This is maybe a whole new stage of life that is going to put her in a different sphere," Marc Brosseau said.
Maioni said that a total of four students were elected Monday night, including two who have sat in her class at McGill.
"I think it speaks to the freshness and the new winds that are blowing from Quebec for the NDP," she told Power Play.
Maioni said the real issue for the Layton and his party is a lack of connection to the community in many ridings and a paltry political organization on the ground for many MPs across Quebec.
"Some of them have very little connection to the communities where they were elected," Maioni said.
To ensure the NDP don't become a "one-election wonder," the new batch of MPs and their staff will have to work hard to catch up with voters and create networks that can deliver successive victories, Maioni noted.
Meanwhile, Layton -- the heart and soul of his party -- is going to have to balance his new role as opposition chief with his new role as Quebec's representative in Ottawa.
Complicating matters is that Layton's key lieutenant in Quebec is MP Thomas Mulcair, who was nearly run out of Quebec City as an MNA in the provincial government, said Globe and Mail reporter Rheal Seguin.
Mulcair and Quebec Premier Jean Charest have a complicated relationship, but the two will have to work together.
"Now this is really a very interesting twist of affairs," Seguin said.
Still, the NDP appear to be relishing their newfound status as political heavyweights after decades of being the little guy.
For veteran NDP MP Libby Davies, the new faces in Parliament represent the diversity of Canada: students, young people and others included.
Plus, Davies said that NDP MPs are often the busiest in Ottawa, sitting on many different committees, coming up with fresh ideas and working on private member's bills.
"I think we already have a reputation as the most hard working MPs," Davies said, adding that the main goal is to hold the Conservatives accountable.
"We will have a very tough job, but I think we'll be a very tough opposition."