Layton's Quebec MP-elects get unwanted attention
From his top lieutenant to the scores of unknown rookies recently elected in Quebec, NDP Leader Jack Layton is finding that more MPs can mean more problems.
On Thursday, the NDP found itself in damage control only days after its historic success on Election Day, when it surpassed the Liberal party to become the Official Opposition.
There was Layton's top Quebec Lieutenant Thomas Mulcair -- the man expected to mentor many of the party's inexperienced Quebec MP-elects -- trying to explain away his comments about the United States not having pictures of a slain Osama bin Laden.
Until then, he had been defending someone else: Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who went vacationing in Las Vegas during the campaign. The NDP even admitted her French needs significant work -- a problem when representing a 98 per cent Francophone riding.
She hasn't been seen since her victory, even to defend herself from accusations about falsifying her nomination papers.
"It's been a whirlwind around a young woman, who frankly on the list of ridings, it wasn't at the top of the ridings that the NDP thought we'd be taking," Mulcair said.
There's also been a number of NDP MP-elects chatting about sovereignty -- and not quite in the way one expects from a federalist party.
"Sovereignty will be done in Quebec. And Quebecers will decide if they want to be a country," 19-year-old Pierre-Luc Dusseault, the youngest MP in Canadian history, told a Toronto radio station Thursday.
"(While) awaiting this moment, I've said why not give us a real government that is good for us. . . We will respect sovereignty with the NDP."
Another NDP MP-elect, Marc-Andre Morin, said he was a longtime Bloc Quebecois supporter.
"I saw that in a certain context it could have been justified," he said. "But I think that things have changed in Canada and Quebec, and it is perhaps not as pertinent now as it was in the past."
Mulcair says Canada should be celebrating the NDP's win in Quebec and the fact young people want to get involved in federal politics.
"Here's what I tell people in the rest of Canada: You should be putting both your arms in the air and saying this is amazing," he said.
"Quebecers are saying we can have faith in a pan-Canadian federalist party like the NDP to bring positive change."
Twenty years ago, Rick Anderson's job was to find recruits around the country for the upstart Reform Party, even in ridings they didn't think they had a chance of winning.
He said he recognizes some of the initial bumps in the road.
"You ride a big wave and elect a whole lot of people, more than you think you were going to elect, and along with that wave are some people that are really quite surprising," he told CTV News.
With files from The Canadian Press