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From a bartender to university students, Monday's historic election created a high number of first-time MPs, leaving pundits, reporters - heck, sometimes their own parties - scrambling to learn more about the people who will represent Canadians for the next four years. Anna Mehler Paperny looks at a few of the most notable ones
THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS GOLDEN BOY Chris Alexander; Conservative; Ajax-Pickering Chris Alexander was a Tory star candidate from Day One. How could he not be? He had been Canada’s ambassador to both the United Nations and Afghanistan; he told stories of having driven with his wife Hedvig from Kabul to Moscow – “the kind of trip you wouldn't do if you knew what it was like.” The graduate of Oxford and University of Toronto Schools came back after spending years abroad – but instead of being dismissed as a carpetbagger, on Monday he wrested Ajax-Pickering from Liberal incumbent Mark Holland, taking 44 per cent of the vote. While the 42-year-old father was declining interviews Tuesday, many have him pegged as the next foreign minister – especially because the Tories’ former foreign minister Lawrence Cannon lost his Pontiac seat to NDP challenger Mathieu Ravignat.
(Graeme Smith/The Globe and Mail)
THE KARATE KID Mathieu Ravignat; NDP; Pontiac That’s Sensei Mathieu Ravignat to you. The karate instructor has 20 years’ experience under his black belt. But his lack of political savvy didn’t stop him from toppling former Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon in what was supposed to have been one of the Tories’ safe Quebec ridings. Mr. Ravignat, who’s also a federal government researcher, played into constituents’ employment concerns in recession-hit Pontiac. While he lacks Mr. Cannon’s five years in the House of Commons, Mr. Ravignat has run before – in 1997, as an Independent backing the Communist party. He and the party have been quick to clarify that this flirtation with the far left was part of his “experimental” student years. “He’s a good social democrat,” said NDP spokesman Marc-André Viau. Like his now-defeated political opponent, however, Mr. Ravignat has also been to China – in his case, to deepen his karate-related knowledge at the famous Shaolin Temple.
The MCGILL FOUR Matthew Dubé, Charmain Borg, Mylène Freeman, Laurin Liu (pictured); NDP; Chambly-Borduas, Terrebonne-Blainville, Argenteuil-Papineau-Mirabel, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles McGill’s alumni association may as well create a Quebec NDP chapter: Four current or former students swept into Parliament Monday. Mr. Dubé and Ms. Borg were both elected heads of NDP McGill at the beginning of the 2010 school year. They didn’t exactly make a media splash in their campaigns: An NDP spokesman had to tell local paper Le Trait d’Union that Ms. Borg didn’t own a cell phone when an inquisitive reporter found her “introuvable.” Nevertheless, Ms. Borg and the other three all handily beat their incumbent Bloc opponents, some with almost 50 per cent of the vote.
(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
THE CHILD PRODIGY Pierre-Luc Dusseault; NDP; Sherbrook Pierre-Luc Dussealt has made Canadian political history before even stepping foot in the House of Commons: At 19 years and 11 months, he’s the country’s youngest MP ever. (The previous holder of that title is Liberal Claude-André Lachance, who was elected in 1974 at the age of 20 years, three months.) But the second-year political science student at the Universite de Sherbrook insists he entered the race with one goal in mind: Victory. “I knew I could win.” The newly minted MP has been an NDP member for two years. He readily cites his party’s policies on Quebec sovereignty and the Sherbrook Declaration, which respects Quebec’s jurisdiction within the federal system – he talks about the need for “a government in Quebec’s image.” His polisci degree, however, will have to wait, he says: He has some governing to do.
(NDP Handout/The Canadian Press)
THE LUCKY LONGSHOT Ruth Ellen Brosseau; NDP; Berthier - Maskinongé For better or for worse, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, 27, begins her political career best known as the Member of Parliament who went to Las Vegas during the campaign. At the time, NDP spokeswoman Kathleen Monk said the rookie candidate had planned the vacation much earlier, and was unable to reschedule. It was seen as an example of NDP unpreparedness at the time – missteps from “placeholder” candidates who didn’t have a shot. In addition to her absenteeism, she wasn’t from the riding – an NDP spokesman said yesterday that as far as he knows, she may never have set foot there – and her French lacked a certain on ne sait quoi. As luck would have it, Ms. Brosseau rode Jack Layton’s orange wave to victory, beating out Bloc incumbent Guy André by almost 6,000 votes. NDP spokesman Marc-André Viau said he’s received upwards of 100 interview requests for Ms. Brosseau. “She needs to catch up. We’re going to start her with local media first,” he said.
THE STRONG, SILENT UPSET Wai Young; Conservative; Vancouver South There was an awkward moment at a rally for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper in Mississauga when booing crowds drowned out a reporter’s question about why Vancouver South Tory candidate Wai Young had accepted the public endorsement of Ripudaman Singh Malik, a man charged in connection with the Air India bombing. The Prime Minister was adamant: Ms. Young didn’t know about Mr. Malik’s connection with the case when she attended a school he helped found. Despite this – maybe even because of it – Ms. Young was victorious on Monday night, beating out political veteran, former B.C. premier and Liberal incumbent Ujjal Dosanjh. Mr. Dosanjh had campaigned tirelessly and publicly in the riding after barely beating Ms. Young in 2008. His Tory opponent, on the other hand, eschewed the mainstream media, campaigning hard on her own in the immigrant-heavy riding.
(Lyle Stafford for The Globe and Mail)
THE DOCTOR IS IN Kellie Leitch; Conservative; Simcoe-Grey Kellie Leitch laughs when asked about the drama that’s surrounded her newly claimed riding of Simcoe-Grey. The pediatric orthopedic surgeon beat popular incumbent Helena Guergis on Monday. Ms. Guergis, a former cabinet minister, ran as an independent after being shunted from the Conservative caucus last spring amid a string of allegations the RCMP later found didn’t warrant investigation. Dr. Leitch, for her part, says what drew voters to her was her focus on two things she says she knows a lot about: The need for jobs, and the need for family doctors. “I’m a physician: Doctors can recruit doctors.”
(Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)