The NDP look to carry the momentum of Craig Scott's Toronto-Danforth victory into their leadership convention this weekend.
With the NDP leadership race just five days away, many of the candidates showed up Monday night to celebrate what had been predicted to be a sure victory for Craig Scott in Toronto-Danforth, Jack Layton’s former riding. They weren’t disappointed. Scott was welcomed by chants of “NDP” from the energetic crowd that filled the Opera House, near Queen Street and Broadview Avenue.
Scott, a human rights activist and law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall, won nearly 60 per cent of the vote, almost matching Jack Layton’s total from the previous federal election. Liberal Grant Gordon finished a distant second, with 29 per cent. Andrew Keyes of the Conservatives and Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu of the Green Party each collected about five per cent.
While there was a focus on the loss of Jack Layton at Scott’s victory, it did not put a damper on the evening. Brian Topp, one of the NDP leadership candidates, was one of the many to express a sense of optimism for the future.
“I think what we saw from Craig Scott and his voters was a real determination to carry on Jack’s work,” said Topp. “So I think there is an underlying passage here that we are having a by-election we wish we weren’t having, just like there is a leadership convention that we wish we weren’t having, but we will carry on and that is the best way to celebrate his memory.”
Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash, who is also an NDP leadership candidate, likewise expressed a desire to build on the success, and laughed when asked if being a new MP would pose a challenge for Scott.
“Well, we were all rookie MPs at one point. You can be a rookie MP but still be a very strong MP,” she said. “Craig Scott is a longtime resident and has been very involved in this community. He has a strong professional record in his career, so I don’t think it will take him long to get up-to-speed in the house of, commons and he will be a terrific addition to our caucus.”
Thomas Mulcair, a Quebec MP and leadership candidate, was overjoyed. He described the victory as a continuation of the “orange wave” of the last election and a step towards greater success in 2015.
“It’s not just winning, it’s winning big. And with a great candidate like Craig Scott, we are going to ride this through to the weekend in Toronto,” he said.
Scott was also looking forward to the leadership convention and emphasized the responsibility they had to the people of their ridings.
“The next step is in five days when we will chose a new party leader who will keep moving this party and this country forward,” he said. “That responsibility is to fight tirelessly for equality and human rights, for environmental sanity, and for a green economy that promotes good jobs and decent lives for all.”