NDP deputy leader Libby Davies has a lot on her plate these days.
Not only is the out lesbian considering a run for the party’s top job, she is also one of only four remaining NDP MPs from the class of ’97 – which is as far back as her caucus goes in terms of parliamentary experience.
As the fall session gets underway, Davies’ experience will be called upon as the NDP tackles the role of Official Opposition for the first time. She is also still mulling a leadership bid.
“I have a role to play in where we are right now, and where the party goes,” Davies says. “That could involve running, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that.”
She is candid about what is considered her greatest shortcoming: her lack of French at a time when more than half the caucus comes from Quebec.
“That is an issue,” she admits. “Some people said don’t worry about it, but I think that is an issue that I have to consider.”
Davies is also waiting to see who else will enter the race.
“In a leadership race, there will be some different perspectives and ideas that will come forward,” Davies says. “What’s out there is important and how do I fit into that?”
Nevertheless, she is aware she needs to make a decision soon.
“I’ve still got a few more people to talk to, but I’ve had lots of people calling me, which is great, and I’ve had lots of encouragement, so I haven’t ruled it out,” Davies says. “I’m still trying to think it through, until I get to the point where I can go, Yep, right, that’s the right decision to make.”
The role of the party’s two deputy leaders, Davies and Thomas Mulcair, was under scrutiny recently in light of the upcoming contest to replace Jack Layton. Interim leader Nycole Turmel declared that those wishing to run must give up their critic roles but can retain their honorific titles.
Despite the sense of responsibility Davies thinks her title carries, she is fine with it being labelled as honorific.
“We have no specific roles,” Davies says. “We’re certainly there in a supporting role, both to the leader and to the caucus overall, and I think both Tom Mulcair and I take that very seriously. We work together with the whole team.”
The party’s September caucus retreat in Quebec City was a chance for MPs to digest some of the changes that have taken place since election day.
“I don’t know that any party has experienced such tremendous changes that are political and emotional,” Davies says. “Everybody feels aware of that, and there’s an intensity to what’s going on, but at the same time, there was a great sense from everybody of we roll up our sleeves and we get down to business. We are the Official Opposition.”