As New Democrats mourn the death of Jack Layton, interim NDP leader and Hull-Alymer MP Nycole Turmel faces an uncertain future.
Turmel did not speak to media yesterday, but Karl Bélanger, Layton’s senior press secretary for the past eight years, said she will remain in place as interim leader for now.
“Everybody is sad today, distraught by the news. There was so much hope and optimism and good wishes from Canadians that everybody was hoping for a different result. So, of course we’re going to spend the day mourning and absorbing the news we learned today,” said Bélanger.
“As for the next steps, this is not the time. The party will meet, in due course, and establish the rules for a leadership race, but that will obviously take some time.”
In the letter Layton wrote to Canadians shortly before his death, he recommended Turmel continue as interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.
“I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the new year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.”
The NDP leadership election of 2003 was held in late January. Layton was elected to replace retiring leader Alexa McDonough.
Turmel called Layton “a courageous man” in a statement she released yesterday. “It was his leadership that inspired me, and so many others, to run for office,” her statement said.