Those who are passed the torch

Shortly before Jack Layton’s passing, Karim Bardeesy profiled Rathika Sitsabaiesan: one of those MPs who may help define the NDP’s future.

To some, Ms. Sitsabaiesan was a surprise winner in that election, in which she beat Conservative Marlene Gallyot by 5,000 votes, with the incumbent Liberals (represented by new candidate Rana Sarkar) relegated to third place. But her victory isn’t just a story of the federal Liberals’ receding political fortunes. It’s a story of a coming of age for an ambitious politician, her community and possibly her party.

For Ms. Sitsabaiesan might be the most compelling of the new crop of young NDP MPs. She’s the first Tamil-Canadian MP, and so has become the de facto standard-bearer for thousands of Canadians who have felt defeated – militarily, in their country of birth, and politically, in their new home. As a 29-year-old woman from political cultures – both Canadian and Sri Lankan – in which older men make most of the decisions, she exudes the poise, organizing skills and confidence of an old-school political veteran.

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