Jagmeet Singh becomes first Sikh to fight for leadership of a Canadian national party
Jagmeet Singh, Sikh leader denied visa by India, has announced that he will vie for leadership of the NDP.world Updated: May 18, 2017 12:35 IST
Ontario legislator Jagmeet Singh has become the first Sikh to mount a credible campaign for the leadership of a national party in Canada, announcing his candidature for taking command of the New Democratic Party.
The 38-years-old member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament representing Bramalea-Gore-Malton, made the announcement on Monday at an event hosted at the restaurant, Bombay Palace, in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto.
The NDP is one of the three major national parties in Canada and had emerged as the principal Opposition party in the House of Commons in the 2011 federal elections.
“I’m proud to announce that I am running to be the leader of the new Dem Party of Canada,” he said, as shouts of “Bole so nihal, Sat Sri Akal” resonated through the venue.
The announcement was preceded by a number of leaders of the party, including elected representatives from Canadian provinces taking the stage to voice their support for Singh’s campaign for NDP leadership.
“People are hungry for new leadership in this country, they are hungry for new leadership in our party,” said Singh, a lawyer by training, as he took the stage wearing an orange turban to match the colour of the NDP, in an event that was also live-streamed on Facebook, pointing towards a campaign that will take social media outreach seriously.
Singh, who was born in Scarborough in Ontario, outlined a vision that included building “a Canada that is inclusive and where everyone can realise their dreams.”
He also attacked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying, “We’ve had enough of empty promises and we’re ready to get the job done.”
Singh has the dubious distinction of being possibly the only elected representative in the Western world to have been denied a visa to India, when in December 2013 his request was turned down by the Indian consulate in Toronto.
Indian officials will monitor his progress in the leadership race, and further, if he were to win it. Singh, of course, also moved a motion in the Ontario Assembly last year to have the 1984 anti-Sikh riots termed “genocide”, though that was defeated.
While the NDP has formed governments in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia in the past, and is the ruling party in Alberta, it has never been in power in Ottawa. But Singh told his cheering supporters that while people may say “the NDP will never win federal government, and you know what, they are wrong.”