Can Jagmeet Singh Get Elected as an MP?
Over a year and several months after he assumed the leadership of the federal NDP, Jagmeet Singh is finally going to get his shot at becoming an Member of Parliament.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called three by-elections to fill three vacancies in the House of Commons brought about by retiring MPs. The by-elections are scheduled for February 25.
The ridings in play are Outremont (on the island of Montreal), the GTA riding of York Simcoe and Burnaby South in British Columbia. Singh is contesting the BC riding as the previous NDP MP, Kennedy Stewart, stepped down after getting elected mayor of Vancouver last fall.As for the other ridings, Outremont became vacant after former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair retired, and York Simcoe was vacated by the then MP, Peter Van Loan, who also retired from politics.
Singh will face Liberal candidate and small business owner Karen Wang, corporate lawyer Jay Shin for the Conservatives and former talk show host Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson of the new People’s Party of Canada.
While he has a higher profile than the other local candidates, it's not a guarantee that Singh will win his by-election. Burnaby South was a close contest between the Liberals and NDP in the 2015 federal election. Singh, a former Ontario MPP from Brampton, had no real roots in BC until a few months ago when he decided to run there.
There are other problems as well. Aside from not having a seat in Ottawa to help keep his party on the radar, under Singh the NDP's fundraising numbers have been less than impressive and the party has barely become a factor in opinion polling and in a series of previous by-elections.
No doubt Singh would have had an easier time to Parliament if his old seat in Brampton was available. There was some chance that there would be a vacancy in Brampton East when the sitting MP Raj Grewal, after having some trouble with his finances and other personal problems, announced he would resign his seat…but he ended up changing his mind and now sits as an Independent.
Singh has indicated that even if he lost Burnaby South, he will stay on as NDP leader heading into the October election, but it's hard to ascertain if the party would even let that happen. A number of current NDP MPs are also retiring rather than running again, while another MP from BC recently stepped down to contest a provincial by-election.
The possibility of the leader losing a shot to get to Parliament is quite real. Should that happen, will the NDP stick with a leader who can't even get himself elected?
Only time will tell.