Jagmeet Singh Set To Run for MP in British Columbia

 

Some 10 months after becoming the leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh is finally ready to become a Member of Parliament.

Only he’s not running in Brampton again, nor in Toronto or even Ontario for that matter.

Singh announced that he will run in an upcoming by-election in Burnaby South, a riding in the Metro Vancouver area of British Columbia. The current NDP MP, Kennedy Stewart, is stepping down to seek the job of being Vancouver’s next mayor.

There are other by-elections that also need to be called in the Montreal riding of Outremont, where former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair recently resigned, and in Leeds-Grenville, Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, due to the death of Conservative MP, Gord Brown.

Map a Burnaby South, British Columbia

Map courtesy of Elections Canada

Stewart was re-elected in the 2015 federal election by 547 votes over his Liberal challenger, after previously representing Burnaby-Douglas from 2011 to 2015, while Singh was the MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton from 2011 to 2017, serving for a time as the Ontario NDP deputy leader.

During his federal leadership run, Singh garnered a large amount of support not only from the Greater Toronto Area but BC’s Lower Mainland, where large Sikh populations reside in cities such as Burnaby as well as Surrey.

But since then the federal NDP has struggled in fundraising numbers (the NDP raised only $872,401 in the last quarter), they’ve lost 13 by-elections and Singh’s has had trouble getting control over a parliamentary caucus that he sees infrequently as he travels across Canada rebuilding the party.

So being in the House of Commons is crucial to putting down that stamp of leadership, not to mention opening up wallets of donors and getting noticed in the news. The downside is Singh would have to wear the label of parachuting into a community he has no prior connection with in order to get elected.

However, he didn’t have many choices: the NDP never had that much of a presence in rural, Eastern Ontario, and their support in Quebec has been abysmal, which is an incredible contrast from the time when the party held 59 seats in the province. Running in Montreal would have been riskier.

The NDP leader has one added benefit campaigning in a BC riding like Burnaby South: the NDP’s staunch opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, an unpopular topic of conversation on the West Coast especially with the environmentalist crowd. Stewart himself was arrested during a peaceful protest over the pipeline back in March.

Singh would not be the first party leader looking for a seat outside his home province. Former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark were both elected in by-elections in Nova Scotia during different times after they became PC party leader. Jean Chretien won a New Brunswick by-election in 1990 when he assumed the Liberal leadership a few years before becoming PM.

The current NDP leader attempted the Jack Layton model of sitting outside Ottawa for a year rebuilding the party, but from the looks of things, that model isn’t working in 2018.

On top of that, this is also contingent on Singh being able to win Burnaby South at all; it used to be that the other parties would not run candidates of their own if a party leader is seeking election, but that appears not to be the case this time around.

The federal election is scheduled to take place in the fall of 2019. Can Jagmeet Singh get into Parliament and improve the NDP’s standings by then? 

Only time will tell.

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