New NDP leader to hit the road

NDP Interim Leader Nycole Turmel leaves after speaking to the media in Ottawa March 21, 2012. Turmel summed up her term as Interim Leader of the party.



OTTAWA - The NDP is preparing a tour to introduce its next leader to Canadians, according to interim party boss Nycole Turmel.

Turmel, who is set to step down as the party's interim leader, said the NDP has plans to send the next leader out on the road shortly after he or she takes office.

New Democrats will select their next chief on Saturday at a convention in Toronto.

More than 3,000 NDP delegates are expected to attend the event and other members plan to cast their ballots live online, but about 40,000 are said to have submitted their picks in advance.

There are seven candidates in the race to replace Jack Layton including MPs Thomas Mulcair, Peggy Nash, Nathan Cullen, Paul Dewar and Niki Ashton. Former party president Brian Topp and Nova Scotia pharmacist Martin Singh are also in the running.

Turmel said the NDP accomplished a lot during her term, including passing motions on aboriginal education and drug shortages.

The Quebec MP also dismissed recent polls suggesting the NDP is slumping and the Bloc Quebecois is growing in Quebec.

"I said it many times - polls are polls. We have three years to build and be ready for 2015," she said.

On a personal level, Turmel said she is looking forward to
focusing more on her Gatineau riding, adding she won't miss the daily stress associated with being party leader.

Turmel said the media contributed to pressure she faced as the NDP's boss.

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