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Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash chats with a constituent in Toronto on Sept. 30, 2011. (Fernando Morales/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash chats with a constituent in Toronto on Sept. 30, 2011. (Fernando Morales/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

Nash enters NDP fray with focus on making economy more inclusive Add to ...

Peggy Nash is the seventh person and first woman to enter the federal NDP leadership race, announcing her candidacy on the promise to fight for greater social and economic equality.

Ms. Nash, a former union negotiator who first won the Toronto riding of Parkdale–High Park in 2004 then lost to Liberal Gerard Kennedy before winning it back last spring, told supporters Friday that the race to head her party is happening at a critical moment of “precariousness, instability and sometimes volatile change.”

People are losing their jobs and personal debt is higher than at any time in history, she said. “That means the next prime minister of Canada is going to do two things,” said Ms. Nash. “First, she is going to have to make sure that our economy works for the benefit of all Canadians.”

The use of the word “she” brought wild cheers from the crowd.

“In order to do that, she is going to have to be able to keep the Canadian economy stable and make it stronger,” Ms. Nash told the sign-waving New Democrats who had gathered at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel for the announcement.

She was introduced by two of her caucus colleagues – Randall Garrison from the B.C. riding of Esquimault-Juan de Fuca and Anne Minh-Thu Quach from the Quebec riding of Beauharnois-Salaberry.

The two presumed frontrunners in the leadership race, Brian Topp and Thomas Mulcair, have both received endorsements from large numbers of New Democrat MPs. But there are many months before the March vote and shifts in support could occur.

The four other men who are running for the party’s top job are MPs Nathan Cullen, Paul Dewar and Romeo Saganash and Nova Scotia pharmacist Martin Singh.

Robert Chisholm, a rookie MP from Nova Scotia who was once leader of the provincial New Democrats in that province, is expected to announce his own campaign on Sunday.

Ms. Nash said Canadians know the NDP has its heart in the right place, having been instrumental in the creation of medicare and the Canada Pension Plan. But they also understand the value of the dollar and know that billions should not be spent on mega-prisons when that money is needed for child care and green technology, she said.

“Come the next federal election, Canadians deserve a real alternative,” Ms. Nash said, “and as leader of the New Democratic Party, I will offer them just that.”

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