Don Martin: Ruth Ellen Brosseau's political rise a welcome triumph
Published Thursday, February 1, 2018 5:51PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 1, 2018 5:54PM EST
What happened in Vegas ended up as a very public triumph for an underrated MP on the floor of the House of Commons this week.
The MP everyone would’ve voted least likely to succeed in 2011 has been named the NDP House Leader.
Then-33-year-old Ruth Ellen Brosseau immediately negotiated all-party agreement to fast track anti-sexual harassment legislation toward accelerated approval.
The Las Vegas connection was Brosseau’s initial claim to fame.
An Ottawa university pub manager and single mom with rusty French, she signed on as the sacrificial NDP candidate in a rural Quebec riding she’d never visited. Then she took off for a long-planned getaway in Las Vegas.
Her hitting-the-jackpot victory a week later turned Brosseau into a news frenzy as a young, accidental MP, a freak occurrence by a political neophyte supposedly doomed to represent a single disaster-filled term.
But a funny thing happened on the way to becoming a freak show.
Brosseau not only survived, but thrived. She dedicated herself to polishing her French and devoted herself to her rural Quebec riding, seizing on unfamiliar constituent concerns as her own and advocating for them in Parliament.
While many other newbies partied heartily in the bars, Brosseau attracted no gossip, avoided all scandals and projected the image of an MP taking her job very, very seriously.
The equally shocking second-shot electoral result?
Ruth Ellen Brosseau was re-elected in 2015 with an even higher percentage of the popular vote than her first election even as the NDP orange wave fizzled under a Liberal red tide.
As House Leader, she is now tasked with making sure NDP priorities make it into legislation and advance smoothly through the parliamentary approval stages.
It’s an important and at times difficult job, one now held by women in all three major parties.
So the fluke that Brosseau was supposed to represent has become a force as key negotiator at Canada’s political epicenter.
It showcases an added dimension to the sudden overdue empowerment of women on Parliament Hill.
The #MeToo moment has women standing up to be heard and heeded. Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who leapt from politically disinterested bartender to super-politicized negotiator, is in a commendable #HerToo class all by herself.
And that’s the Last Word