Here's What Jagmeet Singh's NDP Would Do

Brampton’s own Jagmeet Singh has been leader of the federal NDP since last October, but during all that time he’s mostly been identified as being the first non-white leader of a political party, his flashy suits, and recently his engagement (which he invited the media to cover).

This kind of attention may give people the impression that Singh is more about flash than substance, that he’s just another Justin Trudeau type who is more obsessed with image and taking selfies. So when the NDP held their policy convention this past weekend in Ottawa, Singh was there to give the party his keynote address on where he plans to take them into the next election.

Some of the policies Singh outlined in his speech were the following:

  • Promising to implement proportional representation should his party win government in 2019 for the following federal election.

  • Tackling a “rigged tax system” that benefits the “ultra rich” and making sure they and corporations pay their fair share. Singh cited the recent deal the Trudeau government made with Netflix, which saw the online streaming giant pledge $500 million to set up an office in Canada and create Canadian content, but which has been criticized as giving Netflix an unfair advantage.

  • The need to build transit and infrastructure that connects all people, not just the very few. “If we can’t use it, or afford it, we lose our connections,” he said, citing that quality and accessibility should be the priorities of public transit infrastructure, not profits.

  • The Internet should be a piece of public infrastructure, building it to make it accessible, affordable and high quality. “We own it, it’s ours, we can’t sell it off or we’ll never get it back,” shouted Singh as NDP delegates applauded him.

  • A commitment to protecting the universal health care system, by adding to it universal pharmacare, dental and eye care.

  • A federal ban on racial profiling, street checks (aka carding).

  • A push to legalize all currently illegal drugs, in the wake of the opioid crisis.

Following his keynote, Singh faced his party’s mandatory leadership review, where 90.7 percent of NDP delegates voted NOT to have a leadership convention, which meant they wanted Singh to continue as leader. This was a stark contrast to two years ago, when NDP delegates at their convention in Edmonton voted 52 percent to have a leadership race, tossing out then NDP leader Tom Mulcair following his disappointing showing for the party in the 2015 federal election.

In contrast to his predecessor Mulcair, who carved out somewhat of a centrist platform as the NDP were in striking contention for power leading up to the 2015 vote, Singh’s positions are solidly on what can be considered the progressive left of the Canadian political spectrum. And he needs to do something bold: the latest federal opinion polls shows the NDP still miring in third place behind the Conservatives and governing Liberals.

Despite several gaffes, mini scandals and policy pivots, Canadians still see Trudeau as the most viable person they want as Prime Minister, and he’s still attractive to soft NDP voters. Jagmeet Singh may have added a bit of spice to federal politics with his ascension to the NDP leadership, but he’s still got a long way to go before people consider the NDP a viable alternative government to the Liberals or the Conservatives.

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