Saturday March 31, 2018

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator ( Ð Saturday March 31, 2018

Singh retracts punishment of veteran MP Christopherson after backlash from NDP caucus

Rumblings of discontent in the NDP caucus have been replaced by statements of support for Jagmeet Singh, after the party leaderÕs swift change of heart over punishingÊa veteran parliamentarian who broke ranks on a vote in the House of Commons last week.

In the face of public criticism from members of his caucus, Singh announced Tuesday night that he would reinstate Hamilton MP David Christopherson to his role as deputy chair of the powerful procedure and House affairs committee. The move quashed a decision Singh made just days earlier to dump Christopherson from the position as punishment for voting against his party on a Conservative motion Ñ defeated by a majority of Liberals and New Democrats Ñ regarding a controversial change to applications for summer jobs funding.

Applying groups must now ÒattestÓ that their mandate respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including abortion rights.

Following the about-face by Singh, MPs played down any suggestion of disunity in the NDP fold. Christopherson himself said in a statement that, after speaking with Singh in recent days, he has Òcomplete trust in his leadership.Ó

Other MPs expressed similar sentiments when pressed by reporters outside the House of Commons. Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay), who ran second against Singh in last yearÕs leadership race and spoke out against the decision to punish Christopherson, said the speed with which Singh reversed the move Òreassured peopleÓ in caucus.Ê

It is the second week in a row that conversation around the NDP has been dominated by questions about caucusÕs faith in SinghÕs decisions. MPs held an unscheduled meeting March 19 to discuss how Singh reacted to reports that he attended rallies where people expressed support for Sikh separatism in India, venerated a militant le