Helene Laverdiere, a self-described “accidental” NDP MP who defeated Gilles Duceppe in both the 2011 and 2015 elections, has announced she won’t run again next year.
She surprised political pundits by first beating Duceppe in the Montreal riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie when he was Bloc Quebecois leader in 2011.
Laverdiere, 63, admits that even she was a bit surprised when she grabbed more than 46 per cent of the vote that year to oust Duceppe, who had held the riding since 1990.
“To be honest, in 2011, when I agreed to run for the NDP, I didn’t really expect to be elected,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Monday.
“My objective was to make the NDP better known in the riding where I live.”
Duceppe was blunt when asked about Laverdiere’s decision to not seek re-election.
“I have nothing to say about that, it’s her choice,” he said Monday when contacted by The Canadian Press.
Laverdiere said she was helped in 2011 by the so-called “Orange Wave” which saw the Jack Layton-led party win nearly 60 of the 75 seats in Quebec.
The New Democrats vaulted over both the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois to form the official Opposition for the first time in its history.
“To some extent, I’m an accidental MP,” she said. “It’s been a very happy accident for me because I’ve really enjoyed being an MP.”
Laverdiere credited hard work for her repeat performance in 2015.
“I spent a bit over four years doing my work as best as I could and people seemed to be happy with what I did and re-elected me in 2015,” she said.
Laverdiere pointed out she will be 64 next April and that it is time to pass the torch and make room “for a younger generation – for fresh blood.”
“If I ran again and won my election, that would bring me close to 70 years old,” she said.
“For me, I think in my life, it’s time to take time for my husband, my family (and) my friends.”
The Quebec MP praised embattled NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, saying “his values, the causes he wants to defend are close to mine.”
“I’ve always had confidence in him and no one has suggested to me that it’s time to change the leader,” Laverdiere said.
Laverdiere added that the more people get to know Singh, the more they will appreciate him.
The NDP’s foreign affairs critic is a former diplomat who is bilingual and lists Chinese and Spanish on her parliamentary profile.
Her announcement comes four days after longtime Hamilton Centre MP David Christopherson said he will not seek re-election.
Christopherson was first elected to the Commons in 2004 and has served as deputy NDP leader since 2012.
Singh, meanwhile, has said through a spokesman he won’t be paid by the NDP until the party’s finances become rosier.