The NDP’s union-made caucus

After all the drama and tension of a landmark election, Canadians probably needed a little comic interlude. The NDP provided one, although quite unintentionally. They served up the whimsical story of Pierre-Luc Dusseault, 19, whose upset victory in Sherbrooke, Que., made him the youngest MP ever, and meant he’d have to forgo his summer job on a golf course. Then there were the three McGill University students who will have to suspend their studies after surprising even themselves by capturing Quebec seats...Layton spent much of his first post-election news conference fending off questions about the scant experience of these and other rookies in his much enlarged Quebec contingent. With the collapse of the Bloc Québécois, an astonishing 58 NDP MPs from the province were elected on May 2, up from just one, Montreal’s Thomas Mulcair, before the election. But if all the attention on Layton’s youth brigade suggested an NDP caucus characterized by dewy-eyed campus idealism, that’s a misleading impression. In fact, the front benches of the second party in the House—traditionally seen as a government-in-waiting—will feature many tough-minded former union leaders. “We have some pretty major labour folks,” says veteran Vancouver NDP MP Libby Davies. “That’s a connection to a very solid base of activism, an understanding of politics and how it works."