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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Explained: Why Jagmeet Singh could be kingmaker again in Canada

Jagmeet Singh won from Burnaby South, a federal electoral district in British Columbia where more than 70 per cent of people identify as a visible minority.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 23, 2021 7:45:48 am
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks during the federal election French-language leaders debate, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Gatineau, Quebec. (AP)

Canada’s Liberal Party won the largest number of seats in Monday’s snap parliamentary elections, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gamble to garner a majority failed.

The result is almost identical to the one in 2019, and Trudeau, who has been PM since 2015, will have to continue to rely on other parties — most importantly Jagmeet Singh’s left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), and Yves-Francois Blanchet’s Bloc Quebecois — to pass legislation and stay in power.

Explained: Canada elections and results

Trudeau called the elections more than two years ahead of schedule, saying that he needed a clear mandate to guide Canada through the tail of the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficult economic recovery. The opposition led by Erin O-Toole’s Conservatives denounced the attempted “power-grab”, and opinion polls showed the majority of Canadians did not think the vote was necessary.

Latest results show Trudeau’s Liberals have won or are leading in 158 electoral districts, one seat more than the number they won in 2019, and short of the 170 needed for a majority. The Conservatives have won 119 seats.

The NDP, his current allies, have won 25 seats — enough to continue to be the arbiter on policy on a case-by-case basis. Bloc Quebecois was projected to win 34 seats.

New Democrats

Jagmeet Singh won from Burnaby South, a federal electoral district in British Columbia where more than 70 per cent of people identify as a visible minority. His party, however, did worse than in 2019, when it won 44 seats.

The NDP has said that it would stand by Trudeau’s government on a range of social and environmental issues, but would keep the pressure on progressive issues, including forgiving student loans, and climate change.

“We are going to continue fighting for you just the same way we fought for you during the pandemic,” Singh said, according to a report by Canada’s CTV news. “We are going to keep fighting to make sure the super-wealthy pay their fair share … so the burden doesn’t fall on you and your families.”

One of the main promises of Singh’s campaign was to tax the ultra-rich. He told CTV that one of his priorities once the new government is formed would be to ensure that billionaires pay their fair share of the pandemic cost.

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Pro-Khalistan leader

A former criminal lawyer, Singh was born and raised in Canada. He won his first election in 2011, and soon became popular for his progressive politics, charismatic personality, and flamboyant dressing style.

He became leader of the NDP in 2017, and has repeatedly expressed his ambition to run for Prime Minister.

Singh’s relationship with India has been complicated. His pro-Khalistan stance and vocal support of Punjab’s right to self-determination have repeatedly placed him in controversies. Singh has accused India of “initiating a genocidal campaign against the Sikh minority” in the past, and had introduced a resolution in Ontario’s Assembly to describe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as a “genocide”.

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