MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea-Gore-Malton) who has received acres of coverage through the NDP leadership campaign made history on Sunday by winning the federal NDP leadership – and he won on the first ballot, garnering 35,266 votes out of a total of 65,782 votes cast.
Ontario MP Charlie Angus won 12,705 votes, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton got 11,374 votes and Quebec MP Guy Caron garnered 6,164 votes.
Now, he becomes not just the first turbaned Sikh but the first Sikh – and the first visible minority member – to head a federal party in Canada.
This is a proud moment for Sikhs who view his success as testament to the contributions of the community to Canada. The fact that a turbaned Sikh with a flowing beard could lead a national party in Canada says a lot about Canadian society. But the truth is that there are many South Asians who are yet to get on board with a Jagmeet Singh-led NDP.
Even before Jagmeet Singh threw in his hat into the NDP leadership rink, he was in the news after being denied a visa by the Indian government in December 2013 because of his ‘anti-India’ stance.
In 2016, he moved a motion in the Ontario assembly seeking to describe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India as “genocide”.
Then in July it was reported that the federal NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh was told of the pro-India lobby in Canada trying to dissuade people from getting involved in his campaign.
But despite all these controversies, Jagmeet Singh garnered wide support from key NDP MPs and unions as well as thousands of supporters and well-wishers from Brampton.
In July, Jagmeet Singh announced that he had raised more money in the first 47 days than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or federal Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer had at the same point in their leadership campaigns.
World Sikh Organization President Mukhbir Singh said in a statement: “We would like to congratulate Jagmeet Singh on becoming the next leader of Canada’s NDP. His campaign was inspirational and touched on many issues that are important to Canadians. But beyond just a victory for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP, this is a historical milestone in the story of Sikhs in Canada.
We are delighted to see the engagement of Sikh Canadians on every level and in so many prominent positions. Just a generation earlier, many in our community could not have imagined a time where someone wearing the Sikh articles of faith would be so warmly accepted. The opportunity Canada has offered to Sikhs and people of every culture, faith and background is unparalleled and today we have yet another reason to be proud of being Canadian. We look forward to working with Jagmeet Singh and Canada’s NDP in the days ahead.”
According to many within the South Asian community Can-India spoke to, it is clear that going into the next federal elections will be tough for the Trudeau-led liberals. While the Conservatives could end up winners since the NDP would likely take away votes and support for the Liberals.
There are any number of indications that despite the popularity of Jagmeet Singh, the NDP overall would end up a distant third. As things stand, the Conservatives and the Liberals are running close. – CINEWS