NDP Leader Jack Layton says he spoke privately with former prime minister Brian Mulroney about how to handle his new caucus, which is largely drawn from Quebec.

"I did have a conversation with him and I appreciated him taking the time," Layton said Thursday on CTV's Power Play.

He said Mulroney understood "that when you have a large and diverse caucus from right across the country, including a large number from Quebec, there are some issues."

Layton said they spoke about "process," and how to maintain personal connections among a large number of MPs.

"The notion of staying close to the people and their needs was certainly a part of our discussion," Layton said.

"It was really a question of making sure that you're listening. That's very important to anyone who's leading a group -- be sure that you're listening to what those MPs are bringing to you from their constituents."

The New Democrats marked a historic win in Quebec during the May 2 federal election, taking 59 of Quebec's 75 seats and virtually wiping out the Bloc Quebecois.

The NDP caucus includes MPs who sympathize with Quebec independence. The New Democrats are also the first pan-Canadian party to contest the Clarity Act, former prime minister Jean Chretien's law outlining rules for future Quebec referenda.

Mulroney was prime minister from 1984 until 1993 as leader of the Progressive Conservative party. Much of his success was attributed to his strategy on Quebec.

Layton described Mulroney's suggestions as "useful advice."

"I appreciated the contact," he said.

"Ultimately what are Quebecers looking for? The same thing that other Canadians are looking for: some respect and also some attention to the issues their families area facing."

With files from The Canadian Press