NDP on ‘charm offensive’ with young MPs

Canada Politics

The NDP is looking to build momentum ahead of what promises to be a tough federal election fight by touting the positives of some of the party’s rising stars.

And their blitz has been focused on four individuals in particular: MPs Charmaine Borg, Matthew Dubé, Mylène Freeman and Laurin Liu, who made appearances on national TV programs in Toronto.

Known as the “McGill Four” — all four Quebec MPs who were elected in 2011 while attending McGill  — have what York University professor Dennis Pilon says is an inspiring story.

When Borg, Dubé, Freeman and Liu were elected, along with other first time MPs from Quebec, there were plenty of concerns about their lack of experience. But so far, the MPs have proven many of those concerns were unwarranted.   

“Obviously the party wants to capitalize whatever positive associations they can with these MPs,” Pilon told Yahoo Canada News.

“The public responds very positively to stories that focus on youth doing politics,” he added. “That’s obviously a key concern right now with youth voter turnout on the decline, concerns about citizen engagement and also a lot of concerns about youth.”

Students, he said, are graduating and finding it’s very difficult to enter the workplace with stable employment. The NDP coming out and saying its members not only supports those types of issues but that the party actually has young people in parliament is “a no lose” for them.

Borg, Dubé, Freeman and Liu appeared on CP24 and CTV’s Canada AM this week to talk about their lives as young lawmakers, about spending their early twenties in the House of Commons and some of what they’ve learned along the way.

Shay Purdy, a consultant at Summa Strategies and former NDP staffer under Jack Layton, calls this a “charm offensive,” tactic, a strategically timed campaign to emphasize some of the positive attributes of the party’s MPs.

“[With] this group there’s a lot to work with,” he said. “They’re young, they’re attractive, they’re personable, they’re charismatic — and especially as a group. And because they have a brand, as a result of the 2011 election of the McGill Four, the awareness that comes with that brand is something that NDP can definitely turn into an advantage.”

The party did something similar with Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the infamous rookie MP who spent time during the 2011 election campaign in Las Vegas instead of campaigning in her riding. Brosseau recently appeared on an episode of the CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which, Purdy noted, was accompanied by some news articles about her rise to become a respected MP.

“She’s become an excellent Parliamentarian, served as caucus chair for a while, is the deputy agriculture critic,” Purdy added.

“It’s just a great story, and it’s good for the NDP to remind Canadians of the Orange Wave,” when the party took a giant leap forward to become the official opposition in the House of Commons, he said.

“Everybody thought they would fail. [But] look at them now.”