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Absentee New Democrat dials up her new Quebec constituents

Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the NDP MP for Berthier-Maskinong�, is shown in a newly released photo from her website.

Ruth Ellen Brosseau has a voice - and a new picture to boot.

The elusive member of Parliament for the Quebec riding of Berthier-Maskinongé, who first made headlines for vacationing in Las Vegas during the election campaign, has sent automated telephone messages to her new constituents thanking them for placing their trust in her.

According to a report in Le Nouvelliste, a local Quebec newspaper, the messages were received on Saturday throughout the riding, which extends from Trois Rivieres to Berthierville.

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The message begins with an introduction by NDP Leader Jack Layton, who thanks the people of the riding for voting for change and says Ms. Brosseau will work very hard to defend local interests.

Then, in halting but correctly executed French, Ms. Brosseau says she is working with a strong NDP team in the region to offer excellent service to the people of Berthier-Maskinongé.

As a mother, she says, she understands the challenges of raising a family and assures those in her new riding - one she had never visited before the election campaign - that they will have a strong voice in the House of Commons.

According to the Quebec paper, NDP officials say Ms. Brosseau, 27, will soon make the trip to Berthier-Maskinongé though they did not indicate when that would take place.

In the meantime, the party has posted a new picture of Ms. Brosseau on her own MP's website.

The site says "one of her passions is rescuing and rehabilitating injured animals. For many years Ruth Ellen has committed her time and energy to finding homes for stray animals in her community."

Until she was elected as part of the NDP sweep of the province last week, Ms. Brosseau worked as an assistant manager at a university pub in Ottawa.

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The party has not permitted Ms. Brosseau to talk to reporters, with the exception of an interview with Le Nouvelliste over the weekend.

Mr. Layton has defended his neophyte MP, saying she won by some 6,000 votes and promising that constituents would be very satisfied with her level of commitment after a few months on the job.

Ms. Brosseau told Le Nouvelliste that she was shocked to have won and confirmed she had never been to the riding, but she said she is excited about the opportunity to serve in Parliament.

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