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Text message tweaked rookie New Democrat to her surprise victory

Rookie NDP MP Laurin Liu speaks to reporters during a post-election news conference in Montreal on May 3, 2011.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

For the press these days, it's like shooting fish in a barrel: 58 new NDP MPs in Quebec who all come with wild and wonderful backgrounds and stories.

On Wednesday, the people of the Quebec riding of Berthier-Maskinongé finally met Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the most famous of the new NDP MPs.

For those who might have missed it, she's the 27-year-old single mother and Ottawa pub server who had never been to her riding, spent part of the election campaign on holiday in Las Vegas and doesn't speak French very well.

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Thursday, we meet Laurin Liu. She's one of the twenty-somethings studying at McGill who will now sit in the House of Commons. Born in 1990, Ms. Liu has a little more experience in politics than Ms. Brosseau. She was a member of NDP McGill and has run for student positions.

Typically, at least for someone her age, she found out about her election victory - in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, northwest of Montreal - by text message. How appropriate that she will now be working for Jack Layton, the social-media savvy leader who referred to Stephen Harper's tough-on-crime agenda as "hashtag fail" during the leaders' debates.

In an interview with The Mark, Ms. Liu recalls that moment: "My friend ... texted me and sent me a text message saying, 'you won' and then there were, like, kind of exclamation marks following that and all in caps. So that was actually how I found out."

Ms. Liu makes some valid points in defending the sudden influx of youth into the House, arguing young people bring a lot of "energy into politics."

Mr. Layton, she notes, has observed that while many Canadians complain there are so few young people in Parliament, "when they get elected to Parliament we complain about it."

"So that doesn't make sense," she argues, noting she and her colleagues are putting their noses to the grindstone to do a good job for their constituents.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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