OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called three federal byelections, to be held on Feb. 25, including in the riding where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is running for a seat.

The three ridings in which constituents will be voting in a new MP are:

  • Burnaby South, B.C.
  • Outremont, Que.
  • York–Simcoe, Ont.

In an email to NDP supporters, Singh called it “a big moment for me personally.”

"I'm incredibly excited and honoured to be able to spend the next 47 days fighting for the solutions people need here in Burnaby South," Singh said.

Trudeau has faced pressure from Singh, and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, to call these byelection races. The two opposition leaders have criticized Trudeau for delaying the byelections call, accusing him of playing politics and being petty for not holding votes to fill these vacancies earlier.

"Voters in these vacant seats deserve the chance to have their voices heard," Scheer said in a statement last Friday.

On the weekend, Singh rallied volunteers at his Burnaby South, B.C. campaign office, telling his supporters that Trudeau was prohibiting thousands of Canadians from having prompt representation in the House of Commons by waiting more than 100 days to announce the byelections in each of these ridings.

The prime minister has up to 180 days to call a byelection after a seat is vacated. It was already known that Trudeau was planning to call the byelections this month, with a February voting date.

On CTV’s Power Play Monday, Singh was asked why he thinks Trudeau had yet to call the race. He said that, "I think they’re afraid to face the polls, I think they’re afraid to face their track record."

The prime minister’s byelections call triggers the official campaign period in these ridings. Of the three races, the seat in the House of Commons that Singh is vying for will be closely watched to see how the federal party leader fares, amid questions of what would happen if he does not win.

Singh has been leader of the federal New Democrats since October 2017. After spending months touring the country meeting with people and saying he was comfortable with not having a seat in the House of Commons, Singh decided it was time to try to get elected federally and be in Parliament for key political moments, like question period.

In Burnaby, Singh will be facing off against Liberal candidate and daycare owner Karen Wang, and Conservative hopeful and corporate lawyer Jay Shin. The Green Party chose to extend Singh a “leader’s courtesy” and not run a candidate against him. The seat was vacated by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, who resigned to successfully run for election as mayor of Vancouver.

These byelections are also the first time for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party to run candidates. In Burnaby South former talk-show host and vocal opponent of B.C. teaching gender identity in schools, Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson was announced this week as the nominated candidate.

Bernier’s already had to come to Tyler Thompson’s defence amid criticism of her past comments as transphobic, tweeting Tuesday that “there is room for everyone who supports our platform and the values of freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect.”

The Montreal riding of Outremont was left vacant in August, by the resignation of former NDP leader Tom Mulcair. There, formal president of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation Julia Sanchez is running for the NDP, facing off against past candidate and Liberal staffer Rachel Bendayan, and Conservative Candidate Jasmine Louras.

The Outremont riding will be hard fought between the NPD and the Liberals, as it was a seat that Mulcair snatched from the Liberals in a 2007 byelection.

The Ontario riding of York-Simcoe was left vacant by the September resignation of Conservative MP Peter Van Loan. It’s a long-held Conservative riding, where the defending party is running business owner Scot Davidson. The Liberal candidate is Shaun Tanaka, professor and past federal candidate, and community organizer Jessa McLean is running for the NDP.

There is one outstanding vacancy, in former NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson’s Nanaimo-Ladysmith, B.C. riding. She officially resigned her seat this week, following her announcement she would be running for the provincial NDP. That byelection will have to be announced sometime between Jan. 18 and July 6.

As well, Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio has said he will be resigning on Jan. 22, just days after the window closes on the possibility to hold a byelection to replace him.

Part of the recently-passed election reform bill C-76 changes the rules to state that a byelection cannot be called within nine months of the scheduled general election date, which is October 21, 2019.