Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday February 27, 2019
Has Jagmeet Singh As NDP Leader Been A Total Flop?
When Jagmeet Singh won the federal party’s leadership back in 2017, there was a wave of optimism when people thought of the possibility that Canada could elect its first non-white, Sikh-Canadian prime minister.
The then-Brampton MPP defeated more established, experienced NDP veterans to win the leadership decisively with 54 per cent of the vote. For awhile it seemed the hope and optimism espoused by the late Jack Layton was alive again. To be honest, when I went to cover Singh’s leadership launch, I felt that kind of feeling as well.
But it seems the reality of politics settles in and Singh, like others before him, is not looking as impressive as he once was.
Part of this has to do with his lack of real presence in Ottawa. Singh was an Ontario MPP and once he left that position, he had no seat in the House of Commons which made it harder for him to get noticed at all…by anyone.
All of Brampton’s ridings are currently held by Liberals, and even the embattled MP from Brampton East, Raj Grewal, decided to stay put after his scandalous situation, thus not allowing Singh a pathway to get elected in more familiar political terrain.
This prompted Singh to move all the way to British Columbia to contest a by-election in the riding of Burnaby South, left vacant after the previous NDP MPwas elected Vancouver’s new mayor. Singh may yet win in a riding that only went NDP by about 500 votes in the 2015 election, as the Liberals had to suddenly switch candidates after the first one made what many called racially insensitive comments about the NDP leader.
Coupled with the Liberals own handling of pipelines (a hot button issue in BC) and the current scandal surrounding former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC Lavalin, there may be enough disenchantment with the Liberal brand to allow Singh to win and get himself into the House of Commons so Canadians can actually see him face off against Justin Trudeau.
Singh’s leadership pretty much hinges on this by-election win. The leader’s absence from Ottawa on a regular basis has led to some questionable decisions on his part. One example was removing a veteran NDP MP from a committee for voting with the Conservatives on a motion protesting Liberal changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program regarding abortion protests.
Although the MP, David Christopherson from Hamilton, was pro-choice, he voted for the motion over concerns churches and other religious groups would have to disavow their beliefs to qualify for funding. Since the NDP is a pro-choice party and this MP effectively voted for a motion that reflected a pro-life position, Singh simply went and ‘disciplined’ the man amidst protest from his own MPs.
Christopherson was subsequently reinstated to the committee, although later he announced he would not be running for reelection in 2019. (Continued: In Brampton Editorial)