Jagmeet Singh makes history as he wins the federal NDP leadership

Jagmeet Singh
Photo by Vinnie Combow

ONTARIO MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea-Gore-Malton), who is also Ontario NDP deputy leader, made history on Sunday by winning the federal NDP leadership – and he won on the first ballot, garnering 35,266 votes out of a total of 65,782 votes cast.

Ontario MP Charlie Angus won 12,705 votes, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton got 11,374 votes and Quebec MP Guy Caron garnered 6,164 votes.

In April 2015, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath appointed MPP Jagmeet Singh as deputy leader of the party, thus making him the first turbaned Sikh to hold such a position in Canadian politics.

Now, he becomes not just the first turbaned Sikh but the first Sikh – and the first visible minority member – to head a federal party in Canada.

This now poses a threat to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party as the powerful Sikh vote is bound to get split between his party and the NDP. We will have to wait and see how all this pans out.

Jagmeet Singh started garnering support from key NDP MPs and unions from July when Quebec MP MP Hélène Laverdière announced her support for him.

Then followed support from BC MP Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford), the NDP’s Justice Critic; Ontario MP Brian Masse (Windsor West), the NDP Critic for both Great Lakes and Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and the longest serving NDP MP; Ontario MP Tracey Ramsey (Essex), the NDP Critic for International Trade; BC MP Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby), former NDP leadership candidate and the party’s former House Leader; and BC’s Nathan Cullen, five-term MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley and NDP Critic for Ethics and Democratic Reform.

Also, Canada’s leading union for retail and food workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union that represents over 250,000 workers across the country, announced its support for him as did Canada’s IAMAW (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers) that represents more than 40,000 Canadian workers.

In July, Jagmeet Singh announced that he had raised more money in the first 47 days than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or federal Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer had at the same point in their leadership campaigns.

World Sikh Organization President Mukhbir Singh said in a statement: “We would like to congratulate Jagmeet Singh on becoming the next leader of Canada’s NDP. His campaign was inspirational and touched on many issues that are important to Canadians. But beyond just a victory for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP, this is a historical milestone in the story of Sikhs in Canada. We are delighted to see the engagement of Sikh Canadians on every level and in so many prominent positions. Just a generation earlier, many in our community could not have imagined a time where someone wearing the Sikh articles of faith would be so warmly accepted. The opportunity Canada has offered to Sikhs and people of every culture, faith and background is unparalleled and today we have yet another reason to be proud of being Canadian. We look forward to working with Jagmeet Singh and Canada’s NDP in the days ahead.”

 

ON Monday, Jagmeet Singh sent the following message to NDP supporters:

 

I don’t have the words to capture this journey, or how it feels right now to be writing to you as Leader of Canada’s NDP – but let me say that it is a profound honour. I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve.

Campaigns are never about individual candidates but about teams and what we achieve together. So I want to say thank you to my incredible team, as well as all of the campaign teams and the thousands of volunteers and supporters across the country.

Thank you to all the members that joined our party for the first time and the long-time members that took part in this race. Thank you to the NDP MPs, MLAs and MPPs, as well as all the City Councillors, labour activists, and organizers across the country who were involved in this race.

Thank you to the party for making this leadership race possible.

And it should go without saying that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to [current NDP Leader] Thomas Mulcair for his service and his sacrifice.

This leadership race has renewed excitement in our party, and raised powerful ideas. But this would not have been possible without my colleagues in the leadership race.

Niki [Ashton] has pushed the boundaries as a woman running for Prime Minister. Her courage to be unapologetically progressive and to engage a new generation has placed free tuition, climate change, gender justice, and unstable work on the federal stage. Thank you, Niki!

Guy [Caron] is a true visionary that taught us to not only deal with today’s challenges, but how to prepare for tomorrow’s. We have all benefited from Guy’s deep policy knowledge on inequality, the minimum wage, electoral reform, reconciliation, and climate change. Merci, Guy!

Charlie [Angus] has inspired us all with his commitment to Indigenous justice and grassroots organizing. His team is made up of pillars of our party who have been organizing across our country for decades. Thanks Charlie!

Thank you also to past leadership candidates like Pat who put veterans on the agenda – and especially to Peter Julian, who spent decades organizing for social justice, people living with disabilities, the environment, and in Quebec, for the NDP. Peter’s bold message and his conviction that the NDP is the true progressive alternative inspires us all.

From Tommy to David [Lewis], Ed [Broadbent], Audrey [McLaughlin], Alexa [McDonough], Jack [Layton], and Tom [Mulcair] – and now today, to all of us – we are the party that is building a better Canada. And it is in us that you can see the future of our country – how great our country will be with a New Democratic government.

As Leader, I am so excited to work with you over the next two years.

Together, we will continue growing our party and reaching out to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

And together we will win in 2019 and form the government Canada deserves.

 

IT will also be interesting to see how India reacts to his victory even as Jagmeet Singh is being seen as a future prime minister of Canada.

In June 2014, Canadian media reported that he had been  refused a visa to India and the then-Indian Consul-General Akhilesh Mishra told The Globe and Mail newspaper in an email that the Indian government didn’t have to provide any justification or explanation about it. 

He wrote that those who seek to undermine Indian democratic institutions and foment contempt for them “are only misusing the pretext of human rights to pursue their insidious agenda of disturbing the social fabric of India and undermining the peace, harmony and territorial integrity of India.”

Singh had apparently angered the Indian government by referring to the massacre of Sikhs in India in 1984 as “genocide” and condemning the attack on  the Golden Temple by the Indian Army in 1984.

In fact, all three federal parties criticized the Indian government in June 2014 for the 1984 events and India’s failure to get justice for Sikh victims.

 

 

 

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