Singh vows he will be the one to lead the NDP into 2019 campaign
OTTAWA – Jagmeet Singh says he will lead the NDP into the 2019 election campaign, despite questions over the state of the party under his direction and his own abilities to win a seat in Parliament.
"I will absolutely be the leader that leads the New Democratic party to the 2019 general election," Singh said Monday in an interview on CTV's Power Play from his new campaign headquarters.
Singh has been leader of the federal New Democrats since October 2017, and with nine months until the next election, the party is continuing to trail the Liberals and Conservatives when it comes to fundraising and support in the polls. This, plus questions over his chances to win an upcoming byelection, has led to some skepticism among political watchers about the new leader's future with the party should he not be elected.
This assertion that he is confident he will still be the leader by the time the campaign starts comes on the heels of Singh kicking off his local campaign to get a seat in the House of Commons, despite the byelection in the riding he wants to represent having still not been called.
On the weekend, Singh rallied volunteers at his Burnaby South, B.C. campaign office in anticipation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will imminently be setting the date for a byelection in that riding, along with other vacant ridings across Canada.
During his campaign-style speech with backers and signs behind him, Singh called on Trudeau to immediately call the byelections, and criticized the prime minister for having not yet done so.
Asked why he thinks Trudeau has yet to call the race, Singh said: "I think they’re afraid to face the polls, I think they’re afraid to face their track record."
Byelection expected in February
In November, CTV News confirmed that sometime this month the three outstanding byelections would be called, to be held in February. Under Elections Canada rules, the date the elections are set to occur have to be 36 days after the byelection is called, allowing for the minimum of just over a month to campaign.
"It's clear they're not doing this in the best interest of Burnaby South; they're not doing this in the best interest of Canadians; they're doing it in their own political interest and that's deeply disappointing,” Singh said on the weekend.
The constituents in Burnaby South have been without federal representation since mid-September, when then-NDP MP Kennedy Stewart resigned his seat to run, and later become the mayor of Vancouver.
From Brampton, Ont., Singh and his wife have recently moved to Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver.
In the area, many affordable rental buildings have been torn down to make room for new high-rise condos, and Singh is already making the federal NDP push for affordable housing part of his local campaign platform.
Singh will be facing off in the riding 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.
In addition to Burnaby South, Trudeau is expected to call the byelections in the Montreal riding of Outremont, left vacant in August by the resignation of former NDP leader Tom Mulcair, and the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe, left vacant by the September resignation of Conservative MP Peter Van Loan.
The prime minister has up to 180 days to call a byelection after a seat is vacated.
With files from CTV Vancouver