Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Aug 22 2015, Page 6

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - August 22, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE A6 A 6 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, SATURDAY, AUGUST 22, 2015 SATURDAY SPECIAL winnipegfreepress. com L OUISEVILLE, Que. — In April 2011, a young single mom and Carleton University campus bartender was — fairly or not — pushed into the harsh glare of politics for taking a widely ridiculed three- day vacation to Las Vegas during the federal election campaign. Four years later, Ruth Ellen Brosseau has become a poster child for all that is going right for the NDP in Quebec. With poll numbers above 40 per cent, it’s clear the love affair with the NDP among Quebecers, which propelled it to official Opposition status for the first time, shows no sign of abating. But this time, the NDP is counting on its base in Quebec to get the keys to 24 Sussex Drive. On a hot August morning in the quaint town of Louiseville, about an hour northeast of Montreal, the results of the hard work Brosseau has put in the last four years is evident from the reception she receives from the people who live here. At a local produce stand, where she pops in to get lunch and raves about the ground cherries, owner Nathalie Ricard, rushes out of the stockroom and proffers an embrace. A young worker puts down her baskets of fruit to shake Brosseau’s hand, and says, in French, “ I saw you on TV.” At a senior’s residence in Berthierville, a sleepy, picturesque hamlet on a small offshoot of the St. Lawrence River, Brosseau is a minor rock star. As she moves from table to table during lunch service, the residents put down their poutine and hamburgers to shake her hand. A few scowl in her direction, unhappy about the intrusion. But the vast majority smile warmly and wish her “ bonne chance.” Many speak of the hard work she has done since 2011 and encourage her to keep it up. She is relaxed, easy going and clearly not out of her element as she converses and kibitzes with the people here. Dressed in black capri pants, loose blouse and flipflops that show off the tattoos on her feet, Brosseau is neither apologetic nor ashamed at how she was elected. “ I never lied about anything,” the 31- year- old says. “ In 2011, I was a name- on- a- ballot candidate.” Brosseau wasn’t the only placeholder in the 2011 election. There were dozens of them from every party. She was one of 11 NDP candidates in Quebec who didn’t run any kind of campaign — spending no money, erecting zero signs and shaking zero hands. Most didn’t live in their ridings. Seven of them got elected. But because of her mid- campaign trip to Vegas, discovered when a reporter tried to reach her for comment, Brosseau was the most famous among them. Matthew Dubé, one of the so- called McGill Five, students at McGill University who volunteered to put their name on a ballot so the NDP could have a candidate in every riding, says Brosseau took the hit for people like him. “ We always say she took so many lumps for us,” says Dubé, 28, and running again in the South Shore riding of Beloeil- Chambly. In 2011, Dubé thought maybe he’d make a real run for office down the road, but, as a 24- year- old university student, it wasn’t on his immediate agenda. Four years down the road, he is in love with his job and says campaigning for real is a lot of fun. “ There was a lot of hesitation in the beginning,” Dubé says, during a break from campaigning at an affordablelunch program for seniors in Chambly, Que. “ People were rightfully cautious about me. But as we got more and more confident, they got more and more proud of us.” Both Dubé and Laurin Liu, running for re- election in the North Shore Montreal riding of Rivière- des- MilleÎles, were drawn to the NDP after hearing Tom Mulcair speak at a student event before he became party leader. Brosseau was attracted to the party because of thenleader Jack Layton. Mulcair took the party’s reins after Layton died of prostate cancer in August 2011. Liu says the last four years have had “ a lot of ups and downs... I was a little overwhelmed at first.” But she has accomplished things in Parliament — including pushing the government in 2012 to ensure seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement get it automatically, without having to apply — and wants to stick around for many more years if her constituents will have her. Dubé, Brosseau and the majority of the 59 Quebec NDP MPs elected in 2011 — all but Mulcair for the first time — had to start from the ground up. While most MPs had knocked on doors during the campaign, Brosseau, Dubé and Liu began doing so for the first time after the May 2011 vote. They went to community events, met with local mayors, spoke at public meetings. They were connected to veteran MPs as mentors, who guided them in those first weeks and months, advised them and helped them understand the baffling and oftdifficult world that is Parliament Hill. By Mia Rabson From offence TO DEFENCE NDP steamrolled through Quebec in 2011 — now the party needs to protect its turf Quebec by the numbers Seats available in this election: 78 Seats in the 2011 election: 75 STANDINGS AT DISSOLUTION: NDP: 54 Liberal: 7 Bloc Québécois: 2 Conservative: 5 Independent: 5 Forces et Démocratie: 2 2011 ELECTION RESULTS: NDP: 59 seats ( 42.9 per cent of vote) Liberal: 7 seats ( 14.2 per cent of vote) Conservative: 5 seats ( 16.5 per cent of vote) Bloc Québécois: 4 seats ( 23.4 per cent of vote) THE MONEY GAME: Money spent per MP elected in 2011: NDP: $ 10,649.59 Liberal: $ 349,293.04 Conservative: $ 611,687.61 Bloc Québécois: $ 1.11 million Cash in the bank of ridings associations in Quebec at the end of December 2014: NDP: $ 1,344,741.62 Liberal: $ 976,937.23 Conservative: $ 1,023,688.73 Bloc Québécois: $ 463,823.56 Continued Please see NDP IN QUEBEC A 7 MIA RABSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Former placeholder candidate turned front- runner Ruth Ellen Brosseau of the NDP campaigns for re- election at a seniors’ residence in Berthierville, Que. A_ 06_ Aug- 22- 15_ FP_ 01. indd A6 8/ 21/ 15 6: 19: 04 PM

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