SURREY, B.C. — Nearly a year into his job as leader of the federal New Democrats, and a year out from the next federal election, it’s not exactly smooth sailing for Jagmeet Singh. His party trails the Liberals and Conservatives in the polls and in fundraising, and is well off the level of support that saw it achieve official opposition status in 2011, let alone its more modest 2015 election result. In each of the byelections since Singh took the reins in October 2017 the party has fared badly.
Singh, who isn’t doesn’t currently sit in the House of Commons, has announced he will run in an upcoming byelection in Burnaby South, no doubt hoping that outrage over the Liberal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline will help propel him to victory in a city where the project is to have its terminal. But a win there is no sure thing. Incumbent New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart won Burnaby South by just 500 votes in 2015, and Singh doesn’t yet live in the riding.
At the end of a three-day caucus retreat in Surrey, B.C., as he prepared to start knocking on doors in Burnaby, Singh sat down with the National Post’s Maura Forrest to talk about the coming byelection, the Erin Weir controversy and where the NDP goes from here.
Q: You’ve been in this job now for nearly a year, and it’s been tough. There have been troubles with fundraising. Polls have not been great. Byelection results have not been what you would have wanted. You’re now coming out of this three-day caucus retreat. How do you change the channel?
A: One of the things we did is we went around the table and talked about the stories that people living in the communities across Canada are faced with. The struggles they’re faced with. And we came out really determined. We’ve got to do something about these problems. And it was stories that really brought us together and reminded us all that these are the people that we’re here fighting for.
We’re here to fight for the woman who’s got two kids and she can’t take care of them the way that she wants to because she lives in a home that doesn’t have adequate insulation. These are the things that we really want to focus in on. And so coming out of this retreat, we’re focused in on ‘How do we …read more