POLITICS

New MP Scott vows to continue Layton's work

03/20/2012 01:30 EDT | Updated 05/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Hours after leading the NDP to a convincing win in the riding formerly held by the late Jack Layton, Craig Scott told CBC Radio’s Matt Galloway he was looking forward to getting to work representing the Toronto-Danforth riding.

Scott, a law professor and political neophyte, won Monday’s byelection handily, finishing with almost 60 per cent of the vote. Grant Gordon of the Liberals finished a distant second with just under 29 per cent of the vote.

In Tuesday's interview, Galloway pointed out that Gordon had said facing the NDP in Toronto-Danforth was like running against two people: Scott, of course, but also Layton, whose legacy looms large over the riding seven months after his death.

“My whole goal was to win it, and to win it with pride and to do justice to Jack’s memory,” Scott said Tuesday on Metro Morning. "It wasn’t a foregone conclusion by any means. We had to work extremely hard.”

Layton won the riding by a comfortable margin in last May’s federal election, leading the NDP to Official Opposition status for the first time in its history. The NDP was tested right away however as Layton fell ill to cancer.

“[Monday's win] is a continuation of what happened last May,” said Scott. “The orange crush is how the media named it and we’ve happily taken on the name and that’s what happened last night.”

Scott admitted that during the byelection, voters often asked him about Layton.

“Jack was part of why people are attracted to the NDP in this riding in such numbers, it’s always been a progressive riding,” he said.

“Jack certainly built the party and that includes building in the riding and people were amazingly fond of him. It would be disingenuous of me not to say that didn’t play a role. It provided a benchmark. People looked at me and said ‘Are you a worthy successor to Jack?’ That was the challenge: to reach for the bar that he set.”

Scott said he’s looking forward to this weekend’s leadership convention, where the party will select Layton's successor. Scott said he will play a role but will not endorse any of the seven candidates vying for the leadership role.

He said it will be crucial for the party to emerge from the convention with the same sense of teamwork that he says was key to both Layton's approach and the party's success last spring.