Canadian politics has suddenly become interesting

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Pradip Rodrigues

There is no doubt Canadian politics is destined to be hugely entertaining and very unpredictable in the next couple of years. This is a good thing for Canadians who generally aren’t tuned into boring issues and national debates until it gets to election time. But anyone going through Canadian content would be forgiven for thinking elections are around the corner.

Not-so-long ago, it was assumed PM Justin Trudeau’s position at the helm was unassailable, but now suddenly it seems certain there will be fewer Liberal MPs on Parliament Hill in 2019. The federal libs may well squeak by with a slim majority and there are sure to be a few telegenic young opposition MPs sporting slim suits and even slimmer resumes hogging the spotlight along with PM Trudeau.

This has naturally caused some worry for many liberal rookie MPs especially in Peel Region. According to some Bramptonians, NDP under Jagmeet Singh is poised to draw a large number of votes that would otherwise have gone to the Liberals by default.

Some Liberal supporters are hoping that Jagmeet Singh will at some point stumble, put his foot in his mouth and give people reason to take a step back and ask some real questions.

So the way Jagmeet Singh handles himself in the months ahead will probably determine the fate of the ruling Liberals in the next elections.

So far most mainstream journalists (mostly white) have been writing more pieces about his sartorial style rather than dwell out his policies. The only jarring note came a day after Jagmeet Singh was elected leader of the NDP when he was asked by Terry Melewski a CBC journalist if he would denounce a section of the Sikh community who glorify the late Talwinder Singh Parmar, widely recognized as the mastermind behind the bombing of Air India’s Flight 182 which claimed the lives of 189 Canadians.

Singh’s response raised eyebrows and more than a few questions about where he stands on that issue.

It is unlikely that most mainstream journalists will probe further lest they be accused of racism.

Do you recall how then Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was skewered for his response to the Boston bombing in 2013 that came across as naïve and even dangerous? On a CBC interview he spoke about getting to the root causes of terrorism which was seized upon by the media, naturally it was fodder for PM Stephen Harper who was quick to draw attention to the comment.

On the other hand when it came to NDP Jagmeet Singh’s response to the Air India mastermind’s glorification, the CBC journalist who asked the question was the one admonished for asking the inconvenient question. But there will be some very serious questions hurled his way in the months to come like his view on separation movements around the world that could threaten world order, cause wars and even genocide. But as things stand, journalists will be the ones who may pay the price for the questions.

Meanwhile new Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has been pretty lacklustre so far and can only hope to garner the kind of publicity and adulation that NDPs Jagmeet Singh is receiving.

But here’s what could happen. It is clear that Conservative voters aren’t swayed by a Jagmeet Singh-led NDP, but clearly many left-leaning Liberals who don’t think their party is sufficiently on the left on their pet issues would favor the NDP.

So the bottom line is that the real winner in the next elections will be the Conservatives whether they form the party or not.

Meanwhile the entry of Jagmeet Singh on the national stage has made another thing clear- no party can assume that South Asians can be counted upon as a dependable vote bank. Educated South Asians are likely to vote for a political party that addresses their issues and who share similar values. They aren’t necessarily going to be seduced into voting for a leader because he or she happens to share the same ethnicity on the other hand a section of mainstream Canadians seem to think voting for someone white is racist and would throw their support behind anyone who happens to be brown or black. Does this sound like reverse racism?

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