NDP MP elect Craig Scott is picking up where Jack Layton left off.
Scott, originally of Windsor, won a March 19 by-election set to fill the late Layton’s Toronto-Danforth seat by a landslide. With 16,810 voters choosing Scott, he garnered 8,782 more votes than his closest competitor, Liberal candidate Grant Gordon. Conservative contender Andrew Keyes captured five per cent of the ballots.
Layton held the Toronto-Danforth riding for seven years before succumbing to health complications in August.
A political neophyte, Scott threw his hat in the federal ring in December 2011. In a previous phone interview with the Hants Journal, the Osgoode Hall Law School professor said he felt compelled to put teaching on hold to continue Layton’s “fight for social justice.”
“With… Jack Layton’s passing I think I was affected in the way many people were. He did an awful lot to motivate people and show the beginnings of a different kind of politics,” the acclaimed human rights activist said.
Going into the by-election, Scott listed a cleaner environment, stronger public health care, retirement security and job protection as priorities.
In a press release issued by the NDP following Scott’s victory, interim New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel said Scott, who has “spent his life fighting for people,” will help the official opposition hold the Harper government accountable.
“Families I spoke to understood that this by-election was about protecting the things that mattered to them,” Turmel said in the prepared statement. “The Conservative budget next week will slash jobs, retirement savings and vital services. It’s more important than ever to have a strong opposition.”
In his short time in politics, Scott says has been reminded of the value of teamwork time and time again.
“I only knew in the abstract how important participation by volunteers and very committed members of the party is to democracy,” he said in a phone interview March 21.
Scott said hundreds of volunteers came forward to help with his campaign.
“I’m benefiting from a very strong NDP culture here where people identify with representatives who have gotten the job done, and Jack was huge in that mix of representatives,” he said.
“The number of young people — including many who couldn’t vote yet — who were a part of this absolutely floored me.”
Scott says it has been comforting to learn that many of the elected representatives Canadians have sent to Ottawa are genuinely devoted to their constituents.
“These are good people doing politics because they want to help people,” he noted.
Scott admits he has big shoes to fill, but says he’s “exhilarated” to have the opportunity to serve as Layton’s successor.
“I’m honoured to have had the people’s faith put in me,” he said.
“I’m completely aware of the responsibility that I have now taken on and I’m going to do my best to be a worthy successor to Jack.”
Scott says his mother, Barb, flew to Toronto a few days before the by-election. He says it was comforting to have his mother in the campaign office for the big night, as results rolled in from 180 polling stations.
“No doubt Windsor will hear all about it when she returns,” he said with a laugh.
“It was great.”