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Not Just NDP Should CELEBRATE Singh Election

October 2nd, 2017 · 14 Comments

Frankly, like most Canadians,  I did not know much about Jagmeet Singh … except that he was running for the leadership of the federal NDP to replace Tom Mulcair … and he is a Sikh.

Yet,  I was happy to hear he had won the party’s leadership on the first ballot … not because of any of his policies … but because his election marks the first time a member of a visible minority has been chosen by ANY Canadian political party as LEADER.

Bravo! It’s about time!

As long, of course, as his IDEAS, HIS CAPABILITY and his PERSONAL APPEAL  … and not just his uniqueness … were the major factors that led to his choice by the party.

If so, every Canadian, even those who support other parties, should be proud that our country has reached a state of sufficient maturity that someone who is not Caucasian,  professes a “different” faith from Canada’s traditional Judeo-Christian heritage, and wears religious headgear now has the potential to become our Prime Minister.

And kudos to enough NDP members … 53.6% … who gave Singh their vote of confidence on the FIRST ballot … enough to avoid a runoff against any of the other three leadership candidates.  This is quite an accomplishment in ANY four-way contest!

With the vote approaching, I actually found myself looking away from Canada’s troubles with the US over free trade, the attack on Bombardier, the disaster in Puerto Rican, the Catalan referendum and started paying attention to the increasing coverage of Singh.

Seems very charismatic, articulate, intelligent and dapper, with a good sense of humour: what else could a party want in a 38-year-old new party leader????

Ohhh…. I almost forgot.

Good ideas?  A truly NATIONAL vision? Ethics? Integrity? Electability?

We will ALL have many, many opportunities to examine/agree/disagree with those over the coming months and perhaps years. But for now his accomplishment … and ours … should be  celebrated.

His past in politics was just the prelude.

There’s a really big difference between getting elected as an Ontario provincial politician and trying to win enough seats and the popular vote across a nation as diverse as Canada … especially without even holding a seat in the House of Commons.

Quebec, of course, will be a HUGE challenge.

By excessively pandering to Quebec, former NDP Leader Jack Layton had captured a whopping 59 seats in that province, propelling the party into Official Opposition status …but NOT power. (I wrote about Layton’s strategy back in 2014: )      Tom Mulcair tried to right that balance in other parts of the country … and the NDP dropped to only 16 seats in Quebec…ultimately costing him his job.

Let’s keep it real: a turban-wearing Sikh will have greater challenges winning support among Francophones … especially older voters … in Quebec than voters in any other province. The Bloc Quebecois are likely celebrating Singh’s victory as a renewed opportunity to regain the province’s anti-Trudeau and anti-Scheer (PC leader) sentiments.

But I wouldn’t write him off there completely: Singh is reportedly fluently bilingual as well as charismatic,  and if he/NDP do come up with a sellable message and ideas that appeal to younger, educated voters, they could do very well EVERYWHERE  … including Quebec … over time as a progressive alternative to Trudeau.

And Canada’s historical political precedent could go beyond just having a member of a visible minority as a party leader…..

That is …IF  Singh/NDP do a better job than his predecessors at coming up with POLICIES that appeal to a WIDER population base.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: You can get First Alerts of all new postings on this BC blog by following @harveyoberfeld on Twitter. No spam…just First Alerts of new postings. )

Tags: National

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 E. Johnson // Oct 2, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I did not follow the leadership campaign very closely but Jagmeet Singh seemed to be the shining light in a lengthy rather dull and dreary contest. Hopefully he will have some fresh ideas to capture the interest of voters and not be limited by rigid party politics. His energy, enthusiasm and positivity will generate a lot of attention and should give pause to both Trudeau and Sheere that there is serious competition in style and presentation on the way.

  • 2 BMCQ // Oct 2, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    I know nothing about Mr. Singh.

    I paid no attention to the Campaign and all I can say about the NDP is they made a horrible mistake letting Poor Old Thom Hang on as long as they did.

    Between PM Justin becoming the Social Media, Instagram, and Facebook Darling of those under 40 years old and attracting so much of the NDP Voters the last Election I believe the NDP are irrelevant for at least the next two Federal Elections.

    If Mr. Singh is as popular and charismatic as some think he may encourage some of those same Social Media Genius’s to Vote for him and the NDP.

    In my humble opinion that would then have a detrimental affect on the Federal Liberal Numbers and we may see a Conservative PM sooner than I initially thought.

    People would not Vote for someone as important as a Potential Prime Minister SIMPLY because he is “Shiny and New” and has a nice “Colourful” Turban and Personality WOULD THEY?

    NAH!!!! I don’t think so!

    Personally I do not care who the Prime Minister is, Gender of any type, Sexual Preference, Colour, Religion, none of it matters, as long as they appear to be running Canada as I would see fit to be correct within my beliefs, desires, and expectations.

    I find it absolutely unacceptable that Canadians would Vote for any Politician because of their Gender, Religion or the rest, as a matter of fact it is more than ridiculous that People would Vote for anyone for any of those reasons.

    Having said that I agree with Harvey that I do not believe that is the way a high percentage of the People of Quebec will feel. The NDP may suffer disastrous losses in Quebec.

    What Mr. Singh and the NDP gain from the Enthralled and Politically Correct in some parts of Canada could end up being lost in Quebec.

    Only Time will Tell.

  • 3 Gene The Bean // Oct 2, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Lets hope he is everything as advertised and can bring some youth and new ideas into the arena.

    Tired of politics looking like a rich old white guy club.

    He may struggle in Quebec. Actually, I take that back, he WILL struggle in Quebec. French Quebecers are the easts Albertans.

    Wish him well but I don’t think the federal NDP will ever govern. They do provide effective opposition (at times) and some sober(?) reflections of social issues.

    Can you imagine the Conservatives ever electing a person of colour as their leader? It is funny just thinking about it….. and that really says a lot.

    Maybe in a hundred years once our population has become a darker shade of pale…… Nah

  • 4 Diverdarren // Oct 2, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Harvey, a strong NDP with a charismatic leader strips Liberal voters away faster than a Sponsorship Scandal.

    So go hard Mr. Singh, best of luck in Quebec.

    When the first poll numbers come in showing a split on the left I’m sure we’ll be surprised by how fast Trudeau starts talking about the merits of proportional representation.

  • 5 e.a.f. // Oct 2, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Glad to see his election for all the reasons you sited. He may appeal to Greens. You rides a cool bike to work, in his suit. Very European.

    As a life long leftie, I’m happy with the new leader, he is young! We are now seeing 3 new young leaders of the major parties in Canada and that is a good thing.

    Singh was able to sign up thousands of new NDP members and that will stand them in good stead come election time. I don’t know if he can unseat Trudeau this time, but he may take the NDP to official opposition which would be nice for starters.

    This is the country I always envisioned.

  • 6 BMCQ // Oct 2, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I was just told that Singh advocates for the Decriminalization of ALL Drugs.

    That will finish him with most Canadians with more than Room Temperature IQ!

    It also appears that he plans to avoid By Elections and Lead from outside the House of Parliament.

    If either or both of those are factual I doubt if he will become an NDP Legand anywhere other than in his own Basement! YIKES!

    Sort of like Flying to

  • 7 BMCQ // Oct 2, 2017 at 3:32 pm


    The Conservatives were by far the first Major Canadian Political Party to have a Female Prime Minister.

    How many Women PM’s can the NDP or Liberal Parties lay claim to?


    Some people really have a need to reach for the ridiculous!

    (Response: Yes, I was in Ottawa and covered the PC convention where Kim Campbell was chosen as new Leader. And being from BCTV, was even given special access to her trailer area behind the arena, where other media were banned. Campbell did make history as the first female PM … and was CELEBRATED as such. So should Singh be celebrated for being the first non-white, non European, non Christian or non-Jewish federal party leader in Canadians history … clearly a decades-long larger hurdle to overcome than being a woman. h.o)

  • 8 Art Smith // Oct 2, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    It will be very interesting to see how he handles the questions (which will or should come from our national reporters, but I won’t hold my breath) about the Air India bombing. I am sure he has a set-piece answer ready, but will anybody really grill him about how he feels about the politics of this very messy part of Canadian Sihk history and the RCMP’s complete and utter failure to solve and prosecute this case, other than the one person who was convicted and probably soon to be paroled.

    (Response: Well, if the media don’t push him on that … I’m sure the Liberals and Tories will. h.o)

  • 9 13.. // Oct 2, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    If Mr Singh is the most qualified earthling that the NDP can find to run for PM so be it. If the NDP chose him for any other reason then may they get what they deserve.
    Having said that give Mr Singh the NDP instruction manual.
    Table of contents
    Pander to Quebec.

  • 10 Harry lawson // Oct 3, 2017 at 7:03 am


    The proof is in the policies, the fact that his ethnicity ,religion is the lead story . I personally don’t care what his race religion or gender is

    I care about policies. So far I am not that impressed.

    (Response: I said in my piece that there will plenty of time/occasions/tests of Singh/NDP policies. However that should not prevent any of is from noting the historical achievement of …for the FIRST time in our 150 year history … that a federal party leader has broken a formerly very high colour/religious barrier. Bravo! h.o)

  • 11 Ric // Oct 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Well the good news is that the new Mr Photo Op can take half the votes from the current one and then perhaps we can get some responsible govt back.

    (Response: Competing photo ops and competing photo bombing …what a way to judge for the leadership of a country! Hopefully enough voters will look at competing ideas. h.o)

  • 12 e.a.f. // Oct 3, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Mr. Singh’s election to the head of a major federal party is historic, all politics aside. When Moe Sihota was elected MLA here in B.C. he was the first elected Sihk at a provincial level in Canada. Regardless of what his politics were, it was a major step in Canadian politics. There is an interesting documentary that was made of his rise in politics and to his position as MLA AND cabinet minister. They interview the first Indo Canadian doctor and his comments are very interesting and those of his community who questioned if he would every be permitted to practise and refers to the First Chinese Canadian to graduate law school but wasn’t permitted to practise.

    so when I look at the changes that have been made in Canada, it is a big deal and its not about the party that elected them, but rather that they got to the position they are in and a first for their community. And yes it was a big deal when Kim Campbell was elected to be the leader of the federal conversatives, at least I thought so, even if I didn’t belong to the party.

  • 13 OldIslander // Oct 4, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I met Mr. Singh a couple of months ago here in Victoria – he was being shown town around by Randal Garrison and they attended a community event. I spoke to him for a few minutes, and once past the pink, bee-hive turban, and the wild spaghetti-like black beard, I was struck how this guy was like any of my buddies that I’d go with to a hockey game, for a beer afterwards, or have over for dinner with the family. He is an engaging, personable character and I immediately found myself liking him. I paid more attention to his politics this summer, and didn’t find them too objectionable. 😉 It’s hard to say yet, if he’s PM material.

    Knowing that they will likely never elect a PM in our (ok, my…) lifetime, if I’d been a member of the fed NDP’ers, I’d of voted for him too, just to shake things up. And I think he’ll do that.

    He’s a good guy….!

    (Response: I don’t think it impossible that the NDP could get elected federally…improbable, but not impossible. h.o)

  • 14 Gilbert // Oct 9, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    He praised Fidel Castro shortly after his death. That’s all I need to know. He’s too left wing to become prime minister.

    (Response: I suspect once the “historical” moment has passed, a LOT of what he has said will come back to haunt him … at least with the general public. h.o)