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New Democrats’ Singh looks to dance his way to role as Canada’s kingmaker By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Jagmeet Sing, leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), makes an election campaign trip to Kitchener, Ontario Canada, September 14th, 2021. REUTERS/Nick Iwanyshyn


By Rod Nickel and Moira Warburton

WINNIPEG/VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Sporting dance moves on TikTok videos in his signature neon turbans, the leader of Canada’s left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), Jagmeet Singh, is poised to recover from a 2019 election stumble and strengthen his position as kingmaker in the country’s next government.

Singh is the first Canadian member of visible minorities to be elected as a leader in a federal party. He was instrumental in supporting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority government over two years. A tight race means the Liberals or Conservatives may end up with another minority after the Sept. 20 election.

According to surveys and polls, Singh (42), a criminal defense lawyer, became the NDP leader in 2017. He outranks Trudeau, and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, in terms of personal popularity. According to Leger polls on Tuesday, the NDP has 20% support from undecided voters compared with 32% for the Liberals or Conservatives.

According to a party official, Singh has almost only visited districts in which the NDP does not hold seats.

The party, which currently has 24 seats in Parliament, says it has more cash than in 2019, when it finished third, and is actively trying to capitalize on Singh’s popularity and his social media savvy.

Singh’s TikTok videos regularly draw more than 1 million views and he is quick to jump on Instagram and Snapchat with updates from the campaign trail. In a livestreamed fundraising event, he faced off against Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a U.S. Democratic representative, on the popular Among Us game.

In the campaign’s final days, the NDP plans to feature him in the Nintendo video game Animal Crossing and is considering projecting his image on the sides of buildings.

It is not clear if this will result in more votes. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the NDP’s traditional youth base could be affected.

The party has been trending higher this year than it was in 2019.

Nikki Hill said that people didn’t know Jagmeet Sing last election. She was previously a federal NDP campaign leader and now works as an Earnscliffe strategist. “What they’ve seen in the last couple of years is someone they actually identify with.”

During the past two years, Singh pressed for more social spending by the Liberal government and resisted previous gambits by the government to trigger an election, saying it was unnecessary in a pandemic.

A minority government could lead to either the Liberals and Conservatives depending on Singh to support their next government. This would allow the NDP to press for concessions on priority issues like government-paid drug or dentistry care, tax increases on the rich, increasing minimum wage, and cancellation of student loan.

Singh stated to Reuters, “People have had enough of being taken as a given by the Liberals.” Singh said that things have not improved, but they’ve only gotten worse. So they are looking for something new.

He said that he was less keen to join a particular party in order to find common ground with the Liberals and Conservatives. My commitment is to making people’s lives easier.

Singh said, “If anyone wants to collaborate with me in taxing the super-wealthy,”

Trudeau, who has expressed concern that Liberals may elect progressive voters for NDP instead of Liberals in the future, has also criticized Singh’s plan on climate change for its lack of detail.

In five-year increments, the NDP committed C$200billion ($158.2billion) to new spending and promised to lower emissions by half by 2030 compared to 2005. Singh dodged questions at the recent leaders debate about whether or not he would stop expansion of Trans Mountain’s oil pipeline.

According to pollsters, the NDP must win in British Columbia and urban Toronto in order to make significant gains. This is partly due to a dysfunctional Green Party. A senior Conservative said that the NDP could win six seats within Canada’s most populous city, Toronto.

According to Avery Shenfeld, Chief Economist at CIBC, the NDP could have greater leverage than the Liberals and Conservatives in next year’s government. Polls suggest that it is the only party with sufficient constituency seats, which would allow them to pass bills.

The NDP has never been in federal power, so winning it all might be too much for them. The NDP’s best performance was in 2011, when it finished second and became the official opposition for several years.

At a Winnipeg press conference in August, Singh was joined by indigenous leaders. He then unexpectedly endorsed a Liberal candidate in Manitoba’s parliamentary district.

Singh looked awkwardly on.

Alex Marland (political science professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland) said, “All campaigns encounter difficulties at some time.”