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Jack Layton's risky potential MPs in Quebec

NDP Leader Jack Layton does a radio interview in Montreal on April 26, 2011.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

What is clear from recent polling data is that the NDP may wind up grabbing a few seats - and maybe a lot more than a few - from La Belle Province.

What is not clear is who will be filling those seats.

Parties often run "pylons" in traditionally non-viable seats, placeholders who are simply a name on a ballot. They may not live in the riding, or even bother to show up. For many of the Quebec ridings now in play, we could be seeing a convoy of pylons down the highway to Ottawa.

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A handful of the Quebec NDP candidates are well known and solid.

Tom Mulclair is a sitting MP and possible future party leader.

Françoise Boivin in Gatineau is a former Liberal MP who changed parties after being defeated in 2006.

But after that, the kind of people about to head to Ottawa may surprise potential NDP voters in Quebec and the rest of the country.

For instance, Lawrence Cannon's seat in Pontiac is the kind the NDP can win if these numbers hold.

The candidate there is Mathieu Ravignat, who ran for the Communist Party in 1997.

A moving story in the Montreal Mirror describes the young Mr. Ravignat and his commitment to Communism, weeping over the seizure of the party's book collection along with its other assets after failing to field enough candidates to retain official status in 1993.

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Alexandre Boulerice, the NDP candidate in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie remains an "independentiste," and continues to be a member of Quebec Solidaire, a provincial sovereigntist party.

Recently, he told Le Devoir that "anyone can be in the NDP who defends the platform" and that he is putting social and environmental issues ahead of "the national question." (My translation.)

In a few ridings, the candidates are simple placeholders.

Reporters have been unable to contact the NDP candidates in Bas-Richelieu-Nicolet-Bécancour and in St-Maurice-Champlain.

Of one NDP candidate, local media wrote: "Other than knowing she is 71 years old, we don't know even where she resides." (Again, my translation.)

Others work and live at the other end of the province from the riding they may represent.

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And this is just the result of a few Google searches. Who knows what fell between key words and my inadequate French.

We may only find out around the same time as Jack Layton, when the new MPs show up in Ottawa and open their mouths in front of a microphone.

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