Nova Scotia

Megan Leslie Q & A on losing in politics

Former NDP MP and deputy leader Megan Leslie sat down with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge to talk about losing in politics.

'My first thought was, "Oh my God we have to sell the house"'

The Politics of Losing

6 years ago
What is it like to lose an election and how does it change you? Former MP Megan Leslie and The Insiders share their thoughts. 18:35

Former NDP MP and deputy leader Megan Leslie sat down recently with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge to talk about losing in politics. 

Leslie lost her Halifax riding in the October election to Liberal Andy Fillmore. The loss came as a shock to many in the community.

Below are some excerpts from Leslie's interview with Mansbridge. The full interview will air on Mansbridge One on One on Saturday on CBC News Network at 6:30 p.m. ET. 

It will also air at 12:30 p.m./1:00 p.m. NT on CBC Television on Sunday. 

Q: Were you surprised that night with what happened?

A: "One hundred per cent surprised, totally utterly caught off guard."

Q: You had no inkling through the campaign?

A: No and, and I hope people don't think that I'm hopelessly naive. There are a lot of reasons why I thought I would be OK. First of all through the campaign, you know you look at the track record of a local candidate if they're an incumbent and people were happy with the record, my record. They were happy with their representation.

Q: That drive to the campaign headquarters, that must have been tough. I guess on some level you're still kind a hoping maybe, or do you know by then?  

"By then you know. I received a phone call from Tom Mulcair so I went down and I'm going to try to explain how it feels. I went down and you see everybody and you, you are grateful. And of course I had tears in my eyes and lots of hugs and thanking people for the work they did.

"I've been trying to think about how this is different than a plant closing, or you're a barista and your coffee shop goes under, how is it different? Even though you've lost you are still a public figure, you still represent something to someone."  

Q: The night of, did you sleep well? 

A: " Not really not very well. But in thinking about how this is the same as other people losing their jobs, it's a full body shock. You know, I slept a little bit and then I woke in the morning and my first thought, this is ridiculous, but my first thought was, 'Oh my God we have to sell the house.' 

"You know it's not rational to think that way but it's just this panic about what does this mean? How do we, how do we pay the electricity? We're not at that point the day after an election, obviously, but that's where your brain goes like 'what do I do.' When you're kind of in this fight mode."   

Q: It seems at times, having watched this myself over decades now, that the toll can be much greater than most people realize.

"One thing that I've really clearly understood is the fact that it's this job evaluation or performance evaluation every four years. You do your best, perform your best in this performance evaluation. Not only is your performance not taken into account it's someone else doing the interview. It's your leader doing the interview, it's your party doing the interview, and so you have no control over that process. 

"So you give it your best shot, do the best that you can, but you do need to fully completely understand that it isn't all about you and no matter what you do there may be a moment where something like a wave comes along and you get taken out with it."