When new NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen takes over her office in the riding of London-Fanshawe, she’ll be looking to spruce up the paint, but she won’t have to do much else to feel at home.
The office in London, Ont., belonged to her mother, Irene Mathyssen, who was elected for the New Democrats in 2006 and spent more than 13 years as the riding’s MP before retiring from politics – and opening the door for Lindsay to run.
Although Canada has seen many political dynasties over the years, Lindsay is the first daughter to succeed her mother as a member of Parliament.
Irene admits her old office has become “bedraggled” over the years and her daughter is right to say it is in need of a facelift.
“She will put her mark on it,” Irene said. “And that’s a good, good thing.”
Keeping the same space came down to convenience in many ways, said Lindsay, adding it has many desirable attributes such as its location on a major bus route. There’s also another added bonus. “I know where everything goes," she said.
As she prepares to step back on her own political career and pass over the reins, Irene said she is promising herself, and her daughter, that she “won’t interfere” with the office or the work.
But Lindsay can draw on the foundation Irene laid while she chooses her own path.
“It is the legacy of Mathyssens within London-Fanshawe to provide that respect and to provide that support and to do that job and to do the work and to make sure that we care for people," said Lindsay, one of 24 NDP MPs elected Oct. 21.
Lindsay is no stranger to Parliament Hill, herself, and she’s eager to get going.
Lindsay is well versed in navigating politics and policy after working as a political staffer since 2007, including most recently for former MP Tracey Ramsey of Ontario’s Essex riding.
“I come at this with that experience; I think I have a head start in a lot of that,” she said.
“I’ve worked on legislation. I’ve worked in committee. I’ve been the one writing the speeches and writing the householders and creating the plans and the communication strategies. … I’m really hoping that provides the people in London-Fanshawe with a jump on things.”
For years, Lindsay said many people would tell her that she would follow in her mother’s footsteps. She wasn’t keen on the idea and enjoyed being “the person behind the person.”
Around 2012, though, she said she stopped shying away from the idea and started seeing herself more in this role.
In the weeks ahead, Lindsay said she looks forward to tackling issues in the Commons, including further pushing the Liberal minority government to implement universal, single-payer pharmacare – one of the central asks issued by the NDP ahead of the next Parliament.
She also plans to highlight what she calls the “housing crisis” in her riding.
Lindsay brings strong political instincts and a good heart to the role of MP, Irene said, adding the people of her riding will be well served. She also anticipates her daughter will be a “force” on the national scene.
“I think she will be better at identifying situations and understanding how to deal with them,” Irene said. “I keep telling people she is a lot more patient than I.”
Irene said she personally feels at peace handing over the job to her daughter, saying she will be “the best MP London-Fanshawe ever had.”
“I know it in my heart,” she said. “She will do things in her own way and she will do better.”
As for Lindsay, she knows she benefited a great deal by watching her mother over many years and learning from her.
“She never backed down,” Lindsay said. “She often was the loudest voice in the room because she had to be, not because she wanted to be but because she had to be, and it was to defend those who maybe it was harder for them to defend themselves.”