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NDP opts for a leader who will shake things up with Jagmeet Singh

02 Oct 17
alibhai
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The NDP once chose stalwarts to fight the great fight as leader. Now, they’ve picked someone who might disrupt politics. Don’t underestimate the capacity for Jagmeet Singh to shake things up.

The guy making a victory speech in a bright pink turban had easily swept aside three sitting MPs having an outsider’s campaign which turned into juggernaut, making the stalwarts appear light in the procedure. Mr. Singh, broadly called Jimmy, had hipster suits, good French, a viral movie where he dealt with a heckler, and a floor game.

He’s the first visible-minority leader of a significant national political party, a real landmark in a diverse nation. In his first address as leader, he spoke about growing up with “brown skin, long hair and a funny name,” and being stopped by police for no reason, asserting that as prime minister, he will ensure nobody is stopped “due to the way they look or the color of their skin{}”

There’ll be some temptation to discount Mr. Singh as a Sikh-NDP Justin Trudeau, since there are points of contrast. There is the trendy, image-conscious politicking, the obscure leadership-campaign policies and the hopeful speeches and slogans: Mr. Singh’s “love and guts” rings in the ear such as Mr. Trudeau’s “hope and hard work.”

In 38, Mr. Singh is seven years younger than Mr. Trudeau, and promising to attract young people into politics as the Liberal Leader did two decades back. It’s easy to imagine Mr. Singh talking about what Mr. Trudeau promised and did not deliver, such as striking improvements for Indigenous individuals or electoral reform, to make the claim he’s the real generational shift and Mr. Trudeau is, well, outdated.

The phrases that Mr. Trudeau favours about diversity being Canada’s power have an echo in Mr. Singh’s speeches, but the NDP Leader can speak from experience about being carded due to his brown skin. In a state where one in five identify as visible minorities, many voters will identify with the message. Mr. Singh, when asked if Canadians are ready for a Sikh party leader, has replied that they want it. If it was not already taken, he may have added, “because it is 2017.”

Mr. Singh has the potential to disrupt the routines of Canadian politics. His candidacy provided the NDP a ray of hope that they might move beyond union employees and urban lefties to appeal to new Canadians and struggle for suburban ridings like those from the Greater Toronto Area. The stalwarts did not.

In actuality, Mr. Singh’s three MP competitions were surprisingly weak. None mustered much of a company. None left New Democrats dream. Charlie Angus’s everyman message may have appealed once, but since Jack Layton brought them to a second-place finish in 2011, they wanted something larger.

That is not to mention Mr. Singh is a sure winner — he is not. He just offered a lot more possible to change things. The NDP should change plenty of things to acquire.

The feeble organizations of Mr. Singh’s competitions represent a celebration whose once-tough floor game has shrunk; Mr. Singh’s leadership-campaign membership signups around Toronto and Vancouver do not make a national effort. Mr. Singh shares a crucial weakness of recent NDP leaders: He does not actually have an economic policy.

Meanwhile, the party is dwindling into irrelevance in Quebec, which was supposed to be the new NDP base. A New Democratic MP, Pierre Nantel, questioned whether Quebeckers will take a turbaned Sikh as a party boss. However, Mr. Singh will be different and new, and speaks French well enough: On Sunday, he said he heard the language from solidarity with people who’d endured the slights of a linguistic minority.

Part of the NDP’s playbook now appears obvious. They wish to take back the mantle of being the nation’s progressive party. They will accuse the Liberals of promising hope, and breaking the promise — on issues like electoral reform or climate change or assisting the ordinary joe efficiently. They will suggest Mr. Trudeau’s bright ways have become cynicism. Mr. Singh will guarantee new hope.

The effort to become PM that Mr. Singh announced immediately on Sunday remains a lengthy shot. However, Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals will stress that the NDP could damage them by competing for “progressive” voters in brand new ways. We still do not know how much Mr. Singh, an Ontario MPP who went so fast from insurgent to juggernaut front-runner from the NDP race, can surprise us. However, the NDP voted for somebody who might.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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