Best Rookie: Megan Leslie

How confidence breeds influence, even for rookies


Like a lot of the MPs elected for the first time last fall, Megan Leslie didn’t have quite as much time as she might have liked to prepare to take her seat in the House. It resumed sitting exactly one month after the Oct. 14 election, an unusually short time for rookies to get set up. “I was a sitting MP without an office,” the Halifax New Democrat says. “Without staff. Without pens.”

Not only was Leslie obliged to plunge into Parliament, Parliament itself was soon plunged into turmoil. Last fall’s crisis—when Prime Minister Stephen Harper narrowly averted being unseated by an Opposition coalition—was a frenetic introduction to life on the Hill.

But those unlikely first weeks didn’t seem to throw Leslie, 35, off balance. In less than six months in the House, she has attracted an unusual amount of notice—enough to win her the best rookie MP title in the Maclean’s poll of her peers. She speaks with a passion on subjects like energy efficiency, and she sees potential to make an impact where others bemoan the ordinary MP’s impotence. “It’s really remarkable to see how much influence you can have if you are prepared, understand the issues well, and are confident,” she says. “I’ve seen MPs walk into committees and say, ‘This is the way we should be going,’ and other MPs—it doesn’t matter which party—say, ‘Yeah, I agree with that.’ ”

Raised in a mining family in Kirkland Lake, Ont., Leslie studied at York University in Toronto, and then at Halifax’s Dalhousie University Law School. After graduating, she settled in Halifax to work at a community legal aid office, quickly gaining profile locally on energy issues, especially as an advocate for cheaper power rates on behalf of low-income earners. A self-described “low-level worker bee” in the NDP, she was approached by a party candidate search committee to run in the Halifax riding when former party leader Alexa McDonough retired last year.

Now, having made an early impression on the Hill, Leslie needs to figure out how to make a difference—as a member of the fourth-place party. One forum she hopes to use is the cross-party group, such as Senator Roméo Dallaire’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity, of which she’s a member. “I’m asking, ‘How do I organize communities to care about the issues that I care about,” she says. “But also, how do I organize across party lines with other MPs? I know that sounds very pie-in-the-sky, and maybe naive, but I believe it can be done.”

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Best Rookie: Megan Leslie

  1. The more I learn about Megan Leslie, the more I like her. At the moment, she is my favourite Dipper.

  2. I was a bit disappointed when Ms. Leslie won the dipper nomination in Halifax. Only because she narrowly defeated someone who I thought would have had real star power in Ottawa.
    Friends who knew her longer and better told me I was about to be pleasantly surprised.
    And I am. A very impressive young lady.

  3. To bad she is a part of the useless NDP!

    • Speaking of “useless;” your comment’s only merit is being an excellent example of rhetoric we’ve heard for decades. It reflects the “same ole same ole” crap dumped into the media by the traditional ‘two’ ruling parties, Libs and Cons, who continually attempt to discredit the validity of the NDP. Same rhetoric hoodwinking ‘we the people’ in the USA have been hearing by the DEMs and REPUBs who represent ‘property,’ not ‘we the people’ when anyone like consumer advocate and ‘social democrat’ Ralph Nader pokes his conscientious nose into the fray vying for election.

      Thankfully, in Canada we are able to elect and send an NDP caucus to Ottawa so at least the ‘we the people’ here have a modicum of representation. Cudos to Megan Leslie for being that person representing me and the ‘fax. Am delighted by both her and my efforts, my vote helped “plunge [her] into Parliament,” and she having been elected by her conscientious constituents, now lends voice now being heard and much appreciated by not only her constituents who voted for her but a majority of Parliamentarians accrediting her as ‘best Rookie’ on the ‘hill.’

  4. I think she have a wonderful future ahead of her being the best rookie and all.

  5. I very much admired with the below words.

    “I was a sitting MP without an office,” the Halifax New Democrat says. “Without staff. Without pens.”

  6. Megan Leslie – Such a wonderful person to talks about.

  7. time for change! Not impressed by Megan's expression of my "voice" in parliament. I really don't put much value on what other members of parliament think of Megan because in the end of the day I have to remember that she is representing me, so what really matters is what she has done for Halifax. I have read about her "accomplishments" and feel that they could have been easily completed by other candidates in a shorter period of time. Not to mention her frivolous spending… A bit ridiculous if she's a self-proclaimed "low-level worker bee". She seems to travel in style like a rock star. Anyways, it's time for a change. Hopefully people do their research and realize that Halifax really needs Stan Kutcher. I really am not partisan but we have to think about the impending health accord negotiations and what expertise can Megan bring to the table vs. Stan? Not many… Also, the NDP need a lesson about math ;)

  8. Not a leader.

  9. Miss Leslie, My name is Matt Edgar. My wife is Jirawat Unwiang and we have been married for 12 years. She is a Canadian citizen and has recently gone back to her native Thailand in order to bring her 14 year olf son, Dat to stay with her in this country. Her visa application was denied without any interview. How can this country deny a mother, who is a citizen the right to care for her natural born son? What kind of country do we live in? This child is only 14 years old and we the family are more than willing to take all finacial resposibility for him. We are willing to sign any legal papers to that effect. I have been a loyal NDP supporter since I was 15 when my uncle Ray Larkin unsucssefully ran for federal office around 25 years ago. This ordeal has made me question the integrity of this country. This family is not asking for any finacial assitance. I feel this is a basic human rights issue. A Mother, who is a Canadian citizen should have the right to take care of her natural born son. I don’t think that any moral people would disagree. Please feel free to contact me at or call at 902-422-2248 Halifax N.S. I hope to hear from you. Your loyal supporter, Matt Edgar.

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