Canada has a way of choosing it’s political leaders and will often go for the maverick who will present new fresh ideas and has an image of someone truly different who can inspire voters. In this aspect Canada could not be more different from the USA.
The New Democratic Party (NDP), traditionally the party of labour and social democracy in Canada, announced in April 2016 it would be replacing incumbent Federal leader Tom Mulcair in the House of Commons after the party’s poor performance in the 2015 federal election.
It’s the first time that a turban-wearing Sikh has run for the leadership of a Canadian political party. He poses a challenge to the party; generally in rethinking how it presents itself to the larger electorate. Choosing a successor to Mulcair is something of an existential crisis for the party. In Quebec it is a special challenge given the way Quebecers look at the multicultural and diversity question, a very different approach from the rest of Canada. In this leadership contest the other three candidates where white, one from Quebec Guy Caron and Charlie Angus from Ontario and Nikki Ashton from Manitoba.
Jagmeet Singh is 38 years old single man, fluent in French and English and in Punjabi.
Singh has already enjoyed some success in being the first Provincial NDP member to be elected in Windsor at any level of government.
He also served as the deputy leader of the Ontario NDP in the Provincial Legislature from 2015 to 2017.
Born in 1979, in Scarborough, Metropolitan Toronto, Singh is the oldest of four children born to Sikh immigrant parents from India’s Punjab region. He later moved to Windsor, Ontario aged seven.
Singh frequently speaks about being bullied at school for his “brown skin, long hair and funny-sounding name”. The need to stand up for himself fuelled a lifelong interest in martial arts. Among other sports, Singh has practised taekwondo, Muay Thai boxing and judo.
His first foray into politics came while studying at Osgoode Law School, Ontario, where he campaigned against rising tuition fees. He was called to the bar in 2006, before going on to work as a criminal defence lawyer in the Greater Toronto area.
His years spent defending refugees and immigrants inspired Singh to enter politics in 2011 by running as an MPP with the NDP in the Ontario district of Bramalea-Gore-Malton.
Here with his parents, his father is a psychiatrist
With his brother Gurratan on the left of photo.
Jagmeet Singh is younger than PM Trudeau and is better educated and has an international background. He presents himself as someone who wants to contribute, highly articulate and champions social justice and equality. As new Leader of the Federal NDP this will pose a challenge to PM Trudeau once Jagmeet is elected to the House of Commons, he will need to run now for a seat. He will have to give up his seat in the Provincial Legislature at Queen’s Park in Toronto.