'There's a fair bit of sadness,' says NDP MP as team gathers in Ottawa for strategy session

Re-elected, new and defeated NDP MPs are in Ottawa today to discuss strategy for the next Parliament, but at least one member wants to put the party's disappointing results in last week's election on the table. 

In the Oct. 21 vote, the New Democrats slipped from third to fourth place, dropping from 39 seats at dissolution to 24. 

"There's a fair bit of sadness," said Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP Niki Ashton, who held on to her Manitoba seat. 

"I don't feel great that a number of extremely hard-working MPs, strong advocates are not returning to this Parliament."

Wednesday's meeting is the first  party's first as a team following the election. Defeated MPs will join the caucus for meetings later in the day and for a team dinner. 

A spokesperson for the party said it's a chance to get oriented and acquainted, and isn't billed as a post-mortem .

But Ashton said they need to discuss why the party fell short — and where.

"Like Saskatchewan, which is the heartland of the NDP," said Ashton, after every riding in that province went blue.

"Part of the discussion has to be about what happened. After any election, there has to be a post-mortem. This is no exception."

New Democrats failed to make major inroads in and around Toronto or in British Columbia, and took a big hit in Quebec, where just one of 14 MPs will be back in the House of Commons.

While much of the NDP's fate was tied up in the rise of the Bloc Québécois, Pierre-Luc Dusseault, who lost his Sherbrooke seat to a Liberal, said strategic voting to block the Conservatives played a role.

Leadership review at next convention 

He also said he heard misgivings about Jagmeet Singh as leader. 

"Some people said I can't stand voting for someone with a turban to be prime minister. But only a few said that — it's not the majority. There are people who said that, but I don't put everyone in the same basket who didn't vote for me," Dusseault said.

"But certainly it's a message we heard."

While most pundit's agree Singh's performance during the campaign exceeded expectations, he'll have to ride that momentum during the next few months in the House of Commons.

His leadership will be up for review during the NDP's next convention, which hasn't been officially scheduled yet. 

Singh has tried to put a positive spin on the party's results, promising to use whatever power he has in a minority scenario to fight for the NDP's core priorities. 

The morning after the election, Singh said he's "not at all" concerned about possible questions regarding his leadership.

"I think what lays ahead is really not a question of leadership, but a question of engaging in a proper post-mortem ," said Ashton, who ran against Singh in the party's 2017 leadership contest.

"That involves the party, that involves all of us and most importantly that involves hearing from people on the ground who were involved in the campaign." 

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