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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

CANADA POLLS: Jagmeet’s NDP emerges weaker

chandigarh Updated: Oct 23, 2019 23:31 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to supporters after he was re-elected in Burnaby South at an NDP election night party in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to supporters after he was re-elected in Burnaby South at an NDP election night party in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.(REUTERS)
         

TORONTO A week earlier, New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh appeared a potential kingmaker in Ottawa, but a day after the federal elections in Canada he was facing questions over whether he was concerned over a possible leadership challenge from within the party.

Singh, who was re-elected to the House of Commons from Burnaby South in British Columbia, didn’t appear troubled, as he said, “Not at all,” when asked whether he expected such a scenario.

However, he has led his party to a far weaker performance than four years earlier: Winning 24 seats, it has 20 fewer than in 2015, it’s national vote share has slipped from nearly 20% to less than 16%, and it’s no longer even the third largest group in the House of Commons with the Bloc Quebecois getting eight seats more.

The “Singh surge” after the election debates led to buzz in political circles in Ottawa that the NDP leader, the first from a visible minority to occupy that post for a federal party, could well be eyeing a possible coalition with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, and even a strong say in the government.

There was even speculation Singh would exchange support for getting the post of Deputy Prime Minister. Instead, as he held a press conference in Burnaby on Tuesday, he was left putting a positive spin on the outcome, as he said, ““There’s obviously a lot more work that needs to be done, but we have built a strong foundation. And we have come a long way, and I’m proud of that.”

Singh spokes to Trudeau after the election results were declared, but as the PM gave his speech, he never mentioned that conversation though he spoke of the “voice of Quebec”.

With 157 seats, close enough to the majority figure of 170, Trudeau had options of who he works with, whether it’s the Bloc or the NDP.

Singh was disappointed with his party’s show in his home province of Ontario, where it did not improve its position, as he said, “We’re going to figure out what we can do moving forward and how we can make sure we get our message across. I don’t have an answer for you right now, but I know that’s something that matters to me.”

Singh earned plenty of points during the campaign for his poise and personal charm, but, as the votes were counted, that didn’t help in elevating his party’s status, and instead left it weakened.

BLURB The party’s seats have come down from 44 in 2015 to 24 now