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Sarah Polley, 'respected' member of Topp's union, backs Nash's NDP bid

Film actress and director Sarah Polley gives an interview in Toronto on Sept. 6, 2011.

JENNIFER ROBERTS/jennifer roberts The Globe and Mail

Brian Topp may be a boss at the union that represents Canadian television and film stars but Peggy Nash, one of his rivals for the NDP leadership, has received the endorsement of award-wining actor Sarah Polley.

The performer, who is well known for her social and political activism, issued a statement Wednesday saying she believes Ms. Nash, more than any other leadership candidate, has the ability to reach out to people who have not supported the NDP in the past.

"Peggy is an intensely principled leader with proven respect for grassroots social movements," Ms. Polley said.

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Many of the eight remaining candidates in the race to succeed Jack Layton have spent much time and effort garnering endorsements from high-profile New Democrats. Most of these gestures of support have come from politicians at the federal or provincial level.

Mr. Topp, the Toronto executive director of ACTRA (the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), scored an out-of-the-gate coup in September by announcing his candidacy with party stalwart and former leader Ed Broadbent at his side.

And he has the endorsement of some of the members of his union. In November, a number of stars including Gordon Pinsent, Shirley Douglas, Peter Keleghan and Fiona Reid, gathered at the home of actress Wendy Crewson to toast Mr. Topp's bid for the NDP leadership.

"I'm honoured to have the support of some of my union's highest-profile members in this leadership race, like Shirley Douglas and Wendy Crewson," Mr. Topp said Wednesday. "And Peggy Nash has been honoured to have Sarah's support – she's a very well-respected member of our union indeed. I congratulate her: Good one for Peggy!"

Ms. Polley, who is also a director and writer and who has appeared in a number of television series including the Road to Avonlea and movies like The Sweet Hereafter, does add some star power to a campaign.

"I believe Peggy has the experience and toughness needed to defeat Stephen Harper in the next federal election and become our next prime minister," she said in her statement of support for Ms. Nash. "And of course, Peggy's support of Canada's artistic community is unfailing."

Meanwhile, another candidate for the NDP leadership is asking his fellow contenders to join him in demonstrating support for a group of workers in London, Ont., who have been locked out of their jobs.

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Paul Dewar, the MP for Ottawa Centre, asked the candidates to meet with him Friday on the picket line outside Caterpillar's Electro-Motive plant.

Talks between the workers and the company broke off last week after Caterpillar tabled an offer that includes a 50-per-cent reduction in wage and health-care benefits, and an elimination of pension benefits. There has been speculation the company wants to close the London plant and move the operation to Indiana to take advantage of U.S. Buy American provisions.

"There comes a time when all leadership candidates must put down the gloves and come together. This is one of those times" Mr. Dewar said. "We are witnessing an attack on the working people of London, Ontario and they need to see our support and solidarity"

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