Meet the Class of 2015: Notable rookies headed to Parliament Hill
An ex-pop sensation, ex-military, more diversity and a smattering of old-time MPs round out new Parliament
There will be many new faces around Parliament Hill when it finally returns. In fact, there will be the largest number of new MPs in the House of Commons since the 1993 election.
The Liberal Party accomplished an impressive feat: it vaulted from third place, and 34 seats, to a strong majority government in just one election.
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It added nearly 150 seats to its caucus on Oct. 19, including 136 rookies and 14 comeback MPs, drawing from every province and territory in the federation.
Each election produces a crop of new MPs with impressive resumés. This time is no different, from Jody Wilson-Raybould, regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, to human resources executive Bill Morneau, to prosecutor Marco Mendicino, to Seamus O'Regan, a veteran television broadcaster.
But just who else is part of this new class of MPs?
Canada's ex-boy band MP
There is a long history of sending lawyers and seasoned provincial politicians to the House of Commons, but former boy band members have been, well, notably absent — until this election.
Meet the Liberal MP for the Quebec riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Peter Schiefke.
Before joining the Liberals, Schiefke was national director of the Climate Reality Project, a group of environmentalists trained by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore on the science and impacts of climate change as well as solutions to address the climate crisis.
But there's another entry on his resume that caught our eye: his time as a member of the short-lived francopop sensation Inmotion, a group that produced the No. 1 hit "Sauve-Moi," a gooey love ballad reminiscent of something 'N Sync or the Backstreet Boys produced in the early years of the last decade.
"Peter was the total package we were looking for, because he had great vocal harmony and lots of energy," one his group members, Kashif Khan, said of Schiefke in Concordia's student newspaper The Concordian.
But even as his band was topping the pop charts, Schiefke still had politics in mind.
"The reason I would like to go into politics is because I've seen the social values I've grown up with decompose," he has said, lamenting the "worsening" of the Canadian social system.
Schiefke might be able to start a Liberal caucus band with another newly elected Winnipeg Centre MP, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, who was a professional musician with La Fanfarniente della Strada Gypsy Band in Quebec City, albeit it with much less commercial success.
They're not the first MPs to take a stab at making it big on the Canadian music scene. New Democrats Andrew Cash, who just lost his seat, and Charlie Angus tried their hand — with some success — as punk rockers in the band L'Étranger in the 1980s. (Angus was later a member of the folk band Grievous Angels, and Cash went on to an international solo career and later formed The Cash Brothers with his brother, Peter, of Skydiggers fame.)
Youngest, oldest MPs
The Orange Wave of the 2011 federal election produced a young crop of NDP MPs, including the so-called "McGill Four," taking their name from the Montreal university they attended before getting their ticket to Ottawa.
But only one of them survived the Crimson Tide of 2015: Matthew Dubé, the 27-year-old NDP MP for the Quebec riding of Chambly–Borduas.
The youngest Liberal MP elected to Parliament in this election is Kamal Khera, a 26-year-old registered nurse who works in the oncology unit at St Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto, elected in the riding of Brampton West.
But NDP MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault, who was re-elected in the riding of Sherbrooke, Que., still owns the title of the youngest parliamentarian. Dusseault is just 24.
As for the oldest? Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry, another longtime Liberal who unseated then-prime minister Kim Campbell in the 1993 election. She is 74.
Louis Plamondon, of the Bloc Québécois, will retain his title as the longest continuously serving MP, having first been elected in 1984 as a member of Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives.
The contingent of MPs with military service is at its highest levels since the middle of the last century.
Several former combat soldiers were inspired to run for federal office during this election campaign and most flocked to the Liberal party, driven in part by the controversy surrounding the government's handling of veterans and military issues.
Under Stephen Harper's watch, eight Veterans Affairs offices were closed, nearly $1 billion in defence spending lapsed and former minister Julian Fantino's frequent posing with advocacy groups left hurt feelings.
The highest profile of the new MPs is retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie, who crushed his Conservative opponent in the Ottawa-area riding of Orléans. Leslie, who served in Cyprus and Croatia, when it was part of the former Yugoslavia, as well as Afghanistan, ended his military career as the head of the Canadian Army.
He is a good bet for the Trudeau cabinet, and comes from cabinet stock: both of his grandfathers served as defence ministers in past Liberal governments.
Lt.-Col. Harjit Sajjan, the first Sikh to command a Canadian Army regiment, also unseated his Conservative opponent in the riding of Vancouver South. Sajjan did three tours in Afghanistan, including one in 2006, in which four of his soldiers were killed during fierce fighting with the Taliban.
Former lieutenant-colonel Karen McCrimmon, who won in her Ottawa-area riding of Kanata–Carleton, is another new MP with experience on the battlefield and a 31-year career in the military.
McCrimmon was the first woman in Canada to qualify as an air navigator and the first to command an air force squadron. She served in Afghanistan, the Balkans and the first Gulf War.
A number of other Liberals have served in the regular forces or in the reserves.
Fresh faces in the NDP, Conservatives
Trudeau is not the only politician following in his father's footsteps.
Daniel Blaikie is the son of former longtime NDP MP (and party legend) Bill Blaikie. The younger Blaikie scratched his way to victory, winning by roughly 200 votes over his Conservative rival, Lawrence Toet, in the Manitoba riding of Elmwood–Transcona.
While some of the party's bigwigs — Megan Leslie, Jack Harris and Paul Dewar, among others — lost big on election night, Blaikie could position himself as a bright light in a time of darkness.
A number of prominent names the Harper cabinet chose not to run again, and others, like Joe Oliver and Gail Shea, went down to defeat. But some Red Tories, like two former ministers, Lisa Raitt and Kellie Lietch, found success at the ballot box and will be returning to Ottawa to rebuild.
They'll be joined by Dianne Watts, the former mayor of Surrey, B.C., who was once named the fourth best mayor in the world. The star candidate won the riding of South Surrey–White Rock touting her tough-on-crime record and fiscal prudence.
She also hails from a key demographic that swung Liberal in this campaign: moms from the suburbs that surround Canada's largest cities.