Jagmeet Singh Should Make Justin Trudeau Nervous


Jagmeet Singh, the current deputy leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP), announced Monday evening that he is joining the race for the party’s leadership to oust current leader Thomas Mulcair in Ottawa.

Born in Scarborough, an eastern section of Toronto to Punjabi parents before moving around the country, Singh said he was picked on because of his name, skin, and hair. His father studied medicine in Newfoundland and Labrador before moving the family to Windsor, Ontario, where Singh inevitably ending up slamming headfirst into the discrimination Canadians like to pretend doesn’t exist. It’s assumed to be some of his motivation in his ongoing fight against police street checks known as carding.

“I faced a lot [of] bullying at school and often felt like I didn’t belong,” Singh told hundreds of screaming supporters at the Bombay Palace in the Toronto suburb of Brampton last night. Singh said he wasn’t alone, but it struck him as “incredibly unfair” that other kids who were no less capable couldn’t follow their dreams because their families had less money.

“The values that guide me today, and will continue to guide me as a leader, are the progressive, social democratic values rooted in my experiences growing up,” Singh shouted to the crowd, often switching between English and French throughout the night.

A rising star in the NDP, Singh was named deputy Ontario NDP leader in 2015. Even then, rumors swirled about a potential federal leadership run. Having such strong support in his riding, Singh said Monday that he would not be resigning his Ontario seat to run.

“I’ve had busy schedules before and I’ve been able to still stay in touch with my constituents, so I plan to do that,” he said during his speech. And by the numerous members of legislature throwing their support behind him, there can be few doubts.

“Jagmeet’s been an excellent member of our team. He’s certainly done a lot of hard work to engage young people with our party,” Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said. If Singh can successfully make the leap from provincial to federal politics, he would make history as the first non-Caucasian to helm a major political party in Canada. Singh, who is Sikh, would break through a long-standing barrier at the federal politics level- one that should have been shattered long ago, says Karl Belanger, former principal secretary for the current NDP leader Mulcair.

“Having somebody from a different ethnic background than what we have seen over the past 150 years is something that needs to be applauded,” Belanger said. Labor and history professor at Queen’s University, Christo Aivalis, agrees that Singh’s leadership would send a strong message not only to political parties themselves, but also the Canadian public.

“While some people fear his turban, his name, his skin color…[that] could hurt him in certain parts of Canada, others say that in big cities where the majority of seats are, he speaks to a new Canada,” Aivalis said.

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