Newly minted Toronto-Danforth MP Craig Scott at least partially credits the house that Jack built for his resounding victory.
“Jack Layton played a huge role, for a number of reasons … He was a huge part of building this party, nationally and in this riding,” Scott said in a post-victory scrum. “So I stood on the shoulders of giants, and Jack was one of those giants, the biggest of all if you’d like.”
Upbeat and sanguine leading up the official announcement, Layton’s widow, Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow, told the Town Crier she was absolutely confident in Scott staying true to Layton’s values.
“We’re in good hands with Craig Scott,” she said. “He has the same values as Jack Layton, so he’ll do a very good job.”
Chow served as the emcee and mobilizer for much of the evening, asking the crowd if Canadians needed more fighter jets, prisons, or Pierre Poutine.
“Do we need more Stephen Harper?” Chow asked the effervescent crowd.
“No!” was the spirited reply.
Calls for more affordable housing, childcare and arts funding were met with an enthusiastic ‘yes’.
A large cadre of NDP caucus members lined the stage as Scott graciously thanked his family, volunteers and the entire NDP team for his victory. Leadership hopefuls Thomas Mulcair, Brian Topp, Peggy Nash and Paul Dewar were in attendance, as were MPPs Michael Prue, Peter Tabuns and Cheri DiNovo.
Scott was greeted with a rock star’s welcome as he took to the podium, with one woman shouting “We love you Craig Scott!”
“I’m overwhelmed, and a little bit emotionally drained, but incredibly happy,” Scott said. “I’m so proud of the team that did this.”
He made a point of thanking the diverse communities that make up Toronto-Danforth, including the South Asian, Greek, Chinese, Muslim, Jewish, and Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender communities, for their support.
“Tonight’s result speaks for itself, for the fantastic work that you all did,” he said. “Thank you so much.”
It was obvious the riding had voted for something larger than the individual candidate, as many were decked out in orange and wearing NDP pins.
NDP supporter Maheroon Mawji clearly had the late leader on her mind, as illustrated by her orange shirt that said “Thank you Jack”. She fondly remembers dancing with Layton in 2005, something that made her a lifelong NDP supporter.
“I met Jack Layton in 2005 when the Pakistani Community Centre officially opened. I didn’t even know what was in store for me … I met him and we danced,” she said. “Since then, I feel connected to (the NDP).”
She said she is also fond of the party because of their emphasis on social issues.
“The NDP cares for people, especially homeless people,” she said. “They’re always there for them.”
The mood was jubilant as Scott made his way through a throng of supporters. His partner, fashion design graduate Aeh Ratchadasri, beamed he was pleased that Scott was elected.
Following his victory speech, Scott said he was eager to get to the House of Commons so he could start articulating residents’ local concerns.
He identified the accessibility and cost of childcare as an issue he constantly heard at the door.
“People understand that for some reason, between the federal and provincial level, we can’t get it right,” he said.
Scott also said that environmental concerns were top of mind with voters as he campaigned.
“It has to be said, this is a local riding, but people were talking about global warming,” Scott said.
The Riverdale resident said bringing environmental issues to Ottawa would be a cornerstone of his tenure.
“One of the main reasons I decided to do this apart from the big reason of contributing to a team that can take on Stephen Harper, … is my deep concern for the state of the global environment and various ecosystems that are on the cusp of collapse,” Scott said.
“I want to understand the law of the land in the House of Commons, to where the allies are, and start beating the drum on global environmental issues,” Scott added. “That to me is of huge importance.”