MONTREAL — Jack Layton has endorsed an interim leadership replacement because she’s experienced, bilingual and, most importantly, she will not likely ruffle too many feathers.
The New Democrat leader recommended rookie Quebec MP Nycole Turmel as the temporary party leader while he undergoes cancer treatment.
The former leader of the Public Service Alliance of Canada has only sat in Parliament for less than three months — but she does have three decades’ experience working in the union movement. She was the top union official representing workers in the federal civil service.
Layton says Turmel is an experienced national leader who has already earned the unanimous support of her colleagues in becoming the party’s national caucus chair.
NDP president Brian Topp says Turmel is a logical choice: if the party doesn’t choose its caucus chair, it could end up in the awkward position of having to pick between its two deputy leaders, Libby Davies and Thomas Mulcair.
The caucus will discuss the issue at a meeting Wednesday, and the federal council is expected to choose an interim leader the following day.
“It seems entirely appropriate to me that the chair of the caucus be the person who serves as the interim leader,” Topp said.
“Madame Turmel is a very senior, experienced and excellent public figure, as you will come to know her. . .
“She will do an excellent job.”
One longtime NDP insider says Turmel would be a smart choice because she would strike a balance between the party’s left and right wings.
Turmel, for her part, had little to say Monday.
“I am honoured by his recommendation, but have no further comment to make today,” Turmel said in a brief statement Monday.
“My colleagues and I are all just wishing our leader a speedy recovery.”