Ruth Ellen Brosseau

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Ruth Ellen Brosseau
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Berthier—Maskinongé
Assumed office
Preceded by Guy André
Personal details
Born (1984-04-26) April 26, 1984 (age 31)
Montreal, Quebec
Political party New Democratic Party
Residence Trois-Rivières-Ouest, Quebec
Profession Pub Manager

Ruth Ellen Brosseau (born April 26, 1984)[1][2][3] is a Canadian politician. She was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a New Democratic Party candidate in the 2011 federal election. She is currently the Deputy Agriculture Critic in the NDP's shadow cabinet, and vice-chair of the NDP National Caucus.

Brosseau is a single mother and a vegetarian.[4] She divides her time between Louiseville, Quebec in her riding of Berthier—Maskinongé and Hull, Quebec in the National Capital Region.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Brosseau's father, Marc, is a francophone[7] who is also fluent in English.[8] The Brosseau family lived in Hudson, Quebec until the younger Brosseau reached grade 2. From there, the family moved to Kingston, Ontario, where she continued to take French immersion classes.[9]

Brosseau attended St. Lawrence College in Kingston, but left prior to completing her diploma.[10]

Before her election to Parliament, Brosseau held the position of assistant manager for Oliver's Pub, a bar on the campus of Carleton University in Ottawa.[11] She is also an animal welfare activist who has worked to find homes for stray animals and help injured animals recover.[12]

Political career[edit]

Brosseau first ran for a seat to the House of Commons of Canada in the 2011 federal election. She stood as the New Democratic Party candidate in the electoral district of Berthier—Maskinongé in central Quebec. She was the second nomination choice of the party as the original candidate, Julie Demers, opted to run in Bourassa.[13]

Brosseau was a 'paper candidate' who had been selected by the party due to the lack of a viable local nominee.[14] After the fact, Brosseau referred to herself as a 'poteau', a French slang term for a paper candidate that translates to 'sign post' in English.[14] Brosseau did not campaign and never went to the riding, which straddles the regions of Lanaudière and Mauricie, during the writ period. On election night, Brosseau defeated incumbent Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament Guy André, former provincial Liberal MNA Francine Gaudet and three other candidates, winning a plurality with of 22,484 votes, representing just under 40% of all the votes cast. This represented a lead of 5,816 votes over André, who finished a distant second with only 29.4 percent of the vote.[15] Her victory was part of a wave of NDP support in Quebec. The NDP increased its standing in the province from one seat to a total of 59.

Significant concerns had been raised about her proficiency in French, especially given the fact that 98 percent of Berthier-Maskinongé's residents are francophone[16] and 77 percent of them don't speak English at all.[10]

At a press conference held the day after Brosseau's election, Thomas Mulcair, then the NDP co-deputy leader and Quebec lieutenant, addressed her language issues. While conceding that Brosseau's command of French was "not at a level we would expect for a riding like Berthier—Maskinongé," he personally promised to "help organize her office" and "give her all the help that's needed."[17]

Immediately following her election, Brosseau began working with Kathleen Monk, the NDP's director of communication in 2011, to tackle some of the challenges she faced as a new MP. When discussing her political career, Monk conceded that "There were many people in the media and political backrooms who didn’t think or frankly want her to succeed.”[14] At the same time, she began working on her French and, by 2015, was fluently bilingual.[18]

On April 19, 2012, Brosseau was named deputy agriculture critic in the NDP's shadow cabinet,[19] and on April 3, 2014, she was elected as vice-chair of the NDP National Caucus.[20]

Brosseau has earned praise from her caucus colleagues and national media, with Malcolm Allen remaking that, "lots of MPs work hard, but she has a great work ethic."[14] A 2015 profile in Chatelaine acknowledged that, despite early criticism, "the 31-year-old has quietly evolved into an effective and highly regarded politician."[18] In 2013, Brosseau became the NDP's lead on the student loan data breach, in part because she was personally impacted by the incident.[21]

In 2014, Brosseau announced that she would be a candidate in the Canadian federal election, 2015. Speaking with Mark Kennedy of the Ottawa Citizen, Brosseau spoke about the difficulties she faced during her first years as an MP, but noted, "It took a while to kind of get my feet planted, set up an office, learn what the job was. The negativity only encouraged me to work harder."[22]

Controversies and criticism[edit]

During the 2011 federal election, Brosseau raised controversy when it was learned that she had spent part of the campaign on vacation in Las Vegas. Her trip had been arranged prior to the election being called. By the time the writ was dropped, it was too late to reschedule.[23] NDP leader Jack Layton defended Brosseau's decision to vacation in Vegas, pinning the blame on Harper not keeping his promise on fixed election dates.[24] An op-ed in the National Post criticized Brosseau's inexperience, writing that she is "an extreme example of what happens when people sign up to run for a party with little or no expectation of actually winning."[25]

Two days after the election, allegations were made by both the defeated Liberal and Conservative candidates about irregularities on Brosseau's nomination papers. While each party has the chance to vet each other's nomination papers before the election, the other parties chose not to vet Brosseau's papers because no one believed she had a realistic chance of winning. The local Liberal and Conservative associations called for a by-election, but Elections Canada found Brosseau's nomination papers to be in order and subsequently ruled that only a court can order new elections.[26][27]Both parties subsequently declined to file a formal court challenge.[26]

In response to the allegations, the NDP released a statement, stating that "All signatures were collected legitimately, the documents were tabled with Elections Canada and they were approved by the Returning Officer."[28][29]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2011: Berthier—Maskinongé
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
New Democratic Ruth Ellen Brosseau 22,484 39.63 +29.19 $0
Bloc Québécois Guy André 16,668 29.38 -16.45 $48,739
Liberal Francine Gaudet 8,109 14.29 –4.15 $32,253
Conservative Marie-Claude Godue 7,909 13.94 –8.25 $23,495
Green Léonie Matteau 1,193 2.10 –1.01 $0
Rhinoceros Martin Jubinville 375 0.66 $0
Total votes/Expense limit 56,738 100.0     $94,930
Source: "Berthier—Maskinongé election results". Elections Canada. May 2, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2011. 


  1. ^ "Ruth Ellen Brosseau sort de son mutisme". Cyberpresse: Le Nouvelliste. May 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Vegas-visiting Quebec NDP MP Brosseau admits she never visited riding". Vancouver Sun. May 7, 2011. [dead link]
  3. ^ "'Vegas girl' acknowledges her luck, embraces new challenges in Ottawa". The Globe and Mail. May 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ Stone, Laura (2014-11-28). "Lunch with NDP’s Ruth Ellen Brosseau: Harassment ‘happens everywhere’ – even Parliament Hill". Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Allan Woods and Joanna Smith (May 4, 2011). "Reality show stars, students, museum guides: meet the new NDP MPs". The Toronto Star. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  6. ^ Gauthier, Vincent (December 28, 2011). "La rocambolesque épopée de Ruth Ellen Brosseau". Le Nouvelliste (in French) (Trois-Rivières, Quebec). Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  7. ^ "NDP’s Brosseau admits she’s never been to riding". Toronto Star. May 7, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Video: When will Ruth Ellen meet the press?" The Globe and Mail, Featuring video from, May, 04, 2011
  9. ^ "Brosseau speaks to media, says victory was a "shock"". CTV News Ottawa. 05-07-11.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ a b New Democrat doesn’t have diploma, despite inclusion in biography The Globe and Mail 2011-05-10
  11. ^ "How will Layton's new MPs take to Ottawa?". CTV News. May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  12. ^ Ruth Ellen Brosseau. "Ruth Ellen Brosseau candidate profile". New Democratic Party of Canada. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  13. ^ Tamsin McMahon (May 4, 2011). "The REALLY New Democrats". National Post. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c d Barton, Rosemary. "Brosseau's rise from paper candidate to NDP star". CBC News, May 14, 2014.
  15. ^ "Berthier—Maskinongé election results". Elections Canada. May 2, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  16. ^ Andrew Chung (2011-04-28). "In French-speaking riding, NDP candidate speaks little French". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  17. ^ Montpetit, Jonathan (May 3, 2011). "NDP's gang of rookies includes four McGill students, 19-year-old, Vegas visitor". The Record. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b Giese, Rachel. "Ruth Ellen Brosseau: from ‘Vegas Girl’ to NDP vice-chair". Chatelaine, July 27, 2015.
  19. ^ "Mulcair names NDP shadow cabinet". April 19, 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "Ruth Ellen Brosseau's rise from paper candidate to NDP star". CBC News, May 14, 2014.
  21. ^ Press, Jordan, "Student loan data breach affects NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau". Ottawa Citizen, February 17, 2013.
  22. ^ Kennedy, Mark. "Q & A: Brosseau flourishes in Commons after rough start as 'Vegas girl'". Ottawa Citizen, December 22, 2014.
  23. ^ Bill Curry (April 26, 2011). "NDP candidate takes mid-campaign vacation in Vegas". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  24. ^ Theodore, Terri (04-27-11). "Lack of fixed election dates to blame for vacationing NDP candidates: Layton". Yahoo News Canada.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  25. ^ Hamilton, Graeme (April 27, 2011). "NDP surge means some unlikely candidates have a shot at Parliament". National Post (Toronto). 
  26. ^ a b Marie Vastel; Rhéal Séguin (May 6, 2011). "Libs, Tories protest controversial NDP MP's win, but won't challenge it in court". Canadian Press. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  27. ^ Minsky, Amy (May 6, 2011). "New MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau cleared by Elections Canada". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  28. ^ Tu Thanh Ha; Rhéal Séguin (May 4, 2011). "New NDP MP accused of falsifying nomination papers". Globe and Mail. Retrieved May 5, 2011. 
  29. ^ Sarah Boesveld; Sarah-Taissir Bencharif (May 4, 2011). "NDP MP Thomas Mulcair questions Bin Laden pictures". National Post. Retrieved May 5, 2011. 

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