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Deputy NDP chief by her side, Ruth Ellen Brosseau at last visits her riding

Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the NDP MP for the riding of Berthier-Maskionge, leaves city hall in Louiseville, Que., on May 11, 2011, with deputy leader Thomas Mulcair.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Nine days after her unexpected election as the NDP's new MP for Berthier-Maskinongé, Ruth Ellen Brosseau made her first public appearance in the riding after a series of controversies about her lack of campaigning, poor French and alleged false names on her nomination papers.

The Wednesday morning appearance in Lavaltrie, Que., wasn't announced ahead of time. Instead, local media who attended a news conference for the fifth anniversary of a local museum suddenly noticed Ms. Brosseau's presence, said one participant, Pierre Bellemare, a reporter for L'Action d'Autray.

He said Ms. Brosseau, who was accompanied by NDP Quebec lieutenant Thomas Mulcair, read a prepared statement in French expressing her happiness at representing the riding. She posed for photos but didn't take questions.

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She said she would reconnect with people in her riding in "upcoming days, upcoming weeks, upcoming months, upcoming years," Mr. Bellemare said.

After the news conference, Ms. Brosseau then met two local mayors.

The event Ms. Brosseau visited was to announce the summer programming of the Maison Rosalie-Cadron, the museum that used to be the home of a 19th-century local woman who helped unwed mothers and is currently considered for beatification.

Connecting with that local icon, the 27-year-old Ms. Brosseau told local reporters that, as a single mother of a son, she was inspired by Rosalie Cadron's life.

Ms. Brosseau was also expected to give phone interviews to some local media outlets.

A Radio-Canada television crew that tried to question her in a parking lot as she left was intercepted by Mr. Mulcair, who said they had to go because they had lots of meetings to attend.

Ms. Brosseau's election has made headlines across the country because she was one of the most unexpected winners when the NDP grabbed 58 seats in Quebec on May 2. She got 22,403 ballots, more than 5,700 votes ahead of the Bloc Québécois runner-up.

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Observers have noted that federal parties will field candidates in every riding, in part because they get a $2 subsidy for every valid vote they receive.

As a placeholder candidate who was expected to lose, Ms. Brosseau didn't campaign, famously going for a trip to Las Vegas instead. A Gatineau, Que., resident, near Ottawa, she grew up in Kingston and spoke halting French, despite running in a 99-per-cent francophone riding.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

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