New NDP Party Leader

Janny Wang -
Posted on: October 12, 2017

For much of its existence, the NDP has been the acknowledged hangers-on of federal politics – an awkward mishmash of labour activists and leftists, always an inch short of the much coveted title of “Major Political Party TM”, but half an inch above the swirling vortex of eco-friendly irrelevance known affectionately as the Greens. Jack Layton rescued his party from this perpetual limbo, before he passed away due to cancer six years ago. Tom Mulcair his successor made a valiant attempt at torpedoing his party back into irrelevance before being unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

The heir of this semi-socialist identity crisis is Jagmeet Singh, a criminal defense lawyer and MPP for the pithily named Bramalea-Gore-Malton riding.

To sketch a brief biography: Jagmeet Singh was born some thirty-nine years ago in inauspicious circumstances- which is to say, he was born in Scarborough, a bleak tree- and-concrete mix of Siberia and suburbia. Happily for him, most of his childhood was spent in St. John’s and Windsor. The bulk of his childhood is shrouded in obscurity- none are willing to testify to any extraordinary or prescient displays of genius, heroism, or villainy. However it seems fair to judge with a historian’s impartiality that he was at the end of those eighteen years a competent and well practiced holder of forks, for he emerges shortly after as a student, and then as a graduate, of Osgoode School of Law in York University.

He was a criminal defense lawyer for many years before he decided to enter provincial politics as a member of the NDP and became the MPP for the Bramalea-Gore-Malton riding. In 2015, he was named the deputy for Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario New Democrat Party. As a MPP he sought to reform the automobile insurance industry, helped establish Sikh heritage month and end carding, and attempted to introduce a bill that would allow Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets.

So much for the past; now what of the future?

Mr. Singh’s motto thus far has been “Love and Courage”. In practice, this translates to a shift to the left for the NDP, which observers uncharitable to his predecessor may call a return to form after the latter’s shenanigans. On top of his self- admitted “ambitious” emission reduction targets, he has perhaps even more ambitious plans to tackle tax evasion and introduce further progressive taxation.

For workers, he wants a fifteen dollar minimum wage and an end to unpaid internships, equal protections and wages for temporary workers, and an end to long-term temporary work. For Native Americans, he has promised further investment into education, housing and infrastructure; for trans and non-binary Canadians he has promised further flexibility with regards to gender markers on federal ID and provide safe housing to “LGBTQI2S+ youth at risk or experiencing homelessness”; and for amateur journalists, it is hoped that he will reform his website to be easily navigable.

Mr. Singh, at a tender thirty eight years of age, is even younger than the Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudea. While some may say he’s less pretty, he at least has a recognized sense of style rivaling that of the PM. There are high hopes that his young age will be an advantage as he runs against Trudeau in the 2019 elections. Critics have the consolation that at least he can hardly be worse than Mulcair.

In addition, I need hardly remind my readers that he is the first Sikh and the first visible minority to be leader of a major Canadian party – it only remains to be seen whether he can become the first NDP Prime Minister of Canada.