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Craig Scott 'humbled and exhilarated' to fill Layton's seat in Commons

Craig Scott celebrates his by-election victory in Jack Layton's former riding of Toronto-Danforth on March 19, 2012, with the late NDP leader's widow Olivia Chow and Interim Leader Nycole Turmel.

MIKE CASSESE/Mike Cassese/Reuters

Fresh from his victory in the Toronto-Danforth by-election, Craig Scott says the NDP has proven it has staying power.

The New Democrats easily held on the to the seat left vacant by late leader Jack Layton in a landslide Monday, with Mr. Scott capturing close to 60 per cent of the vote. The Liberals, who desperately wanted to add another MP to their dwindled caucus of 34, finished a distant second at 28.5 per cent.

Mr. Scott is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. The newly minted MP will remain in Toronto for the NDP leadership convention this weekend before joining caucus when the House of Commons returns from its March break next Monday.

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The Globe spoke to Mr. Scott by phone Tuesday morning.

What does this win mean for you?

I'm both humbled and exhilarated to follow in Jack's footsteps. I'm also feeling nervous: First winning the nomination and now the riding, these were both new experiences. But I have a great sense of anticipation.

And what does holding on to Mr. Layton's old seat mean for the NDP?

This is also a great statement for the party that the orange crush never went away despite a rough transition. When you lose a great leader like Jack and have so many new MPs in the House, there will be some challenges. But this win is a continuation of the sign that the NDP is a good Official Opposition.

How much of a role do you think nostalgia for Jack Layton played in keeping this riding NDP?

The NDP held on to the riding because they've garnered the riding's support. Jack was a major part of those NDP roots in the riding, so it's hard to disentangle the two. We effectively mirrored yesterday the results from the last election. [Mr. Scott got 59 per cent of the vote, while Mr. Layton received 60.8 per cent.]I'm not going to pretend I could have done that without the work Jack had done in the past and the efforts of the entire NDP team. But I will still have to make my own way forward now.

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What are the issues you want to focus on, both nationally and in your riding?

Nationally, I want to make sure we continue to be an effective opposition to Stephen Harper's Conservatives. But my other bring priority is the environment and getting Canada to become an effective green economy. In my riding, I want to go back and reconnect with all those people on the issues that came up – like transit, arts and culture, and childcare.

You filled Mr. Layton's shoes in Toronto-Danforth. Who do you think should follow him as leader of the NDP?

I'm not declaring that because I'm still wrestling with who should take that role. I will be at the convention, however.

This interview has been edited and condensed

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