Byelections on Feb 25, all eyes on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

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On Wednesday PM Justin Trudeau finally set February 25 as the date for three federal byelections.

This is of particular significance for the NDP as its Leader Jagmeet Singh’s future as party leader and his position in politics is at stake. He is running for a seat in the House of Commons in the B.C. riding of Burnaby South. Singh, a former member of Ontario’s provincial legislature, has been without a seat since he won the leadership of the NDP in October 2017.

In all three by-elections have been called, the other two are in Outremont and York–Simcoe.

A survey conducted in November by Mainstreet Research (with an admittedly small sample of 330 decided voters) found the New Democrats trailing in third in the riding.

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While the NDP has held sway in the area since the 2004 election, it was always by the narrowest of margins. Burnaby South was a three-way race in 2015 and the polls suggest the New Democrats have lost support in British Columbia since the last election.

The partisan ‘lean’ in Burnaby South — the measure of how the riding’s voting behaviour over the last three elections compares to the country as a whole — favours the NDP. It is 16.8 points more New Democratic than the rest of the country, which ranks it as the 31st most NDP-leaning riding in Canada. It ranks far lower for the Conservatives (189th) and the Liberals (221st), but a potential three-way contest still puts both of those parties within striking distance.

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The demographic profile of Burnaby South also could limit Singh’s appeal. According to the 2016 census, 39 per cent of the riding’s population is Chinese, while just eight per cent is South Asian. The Liberal and Conservative candidates, Karen Wang and Jay Shin, both hail from the Chinese-Canadian community.

Last week Andrew Scheer, Conservative Party Leader said he believed it was time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped playing political games with by-elections.

“Last fall, Justin Trudeau played political games with the timing of important by-elections, calling only one despite the fact that four seats were vacant. Trudeau’s failure left thousands of Canadians unrepresented in Parliament, and further broke the public’s trust in his government.

“As 2019 begins, Justin Trudeau is once again putting his own partisan interests ahead of Canadians who deserve to have their voices heard in Parliament. Four seats are currently vacant, but Trudeau refuses to commit to calling all four by-elections.”

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It looks like Trudeau was listening. -CINEWS

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