He is the Most loved national political leader in Canada, wears tailored suits, has adorned the pages from a men’s fashion magazine and is followed by dazzled fans on social media. And it’s not Justin Trudeau.
With Canada heading to the polls after a controversial snap election called by Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the progressive New Democratic Party (NDP), has quickly emerged as Canada’s most affable politician, and a powerful figure who is unlikely to meet. become the best. Minister.
On that last point, Singh and the party leaders disagree. He maintains that, like the other leaders, he is vying for the chance to govern when the country votes on September 20. But while the former human rights lawyer may end up a victim of a multi-party system that rewards Trudeau’s liberals and conservatives, he could win king-maker status.
His appeal with voters comes when Trudeau has stumbled in the polls. Polls have found that up to three-quarters of Canadians disagree with holding elections during the fourth wave of the pandemic. The prime minister is three points behind conservative rival Erin O’Toole. The rookie Conservative leader has spent weeks closing the political gap between his party and the ruling Liberals.
Yet on the left, Singh seeks to widen that gap. Delivering on promises to make prescription drugs available to all Canadians, reduce emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2030, write off student loan debt, and address bloated housing and rental markets, Singh’s campaign it has enjoyed a surge in support since the elections were called. at the end of August.
With his youth and charisma, Singh, 42, has been compared to Trudeau, a leader criticized for focusing on the optics over substance and politics. But on a recent visit to Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan, where 751, Singh drew a clear line between himself and the liberal leader: “I’m not Justin Trudeau. I am not like him. I have lived a different life. I understand the pain of not being valued, of not being worth anything. Indigenous peoples have been made to feel that way for so long. And I promise you, I will be different. “
Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Singh spent much of his early life on the move after his father Jagtaran, a psychiatrist, accepted jobs at different hospitals. Jagtaran became an alcoholic and abused both Jagmeet and his younger brother Gurratan. After an incident with his father, Jagmeet, then in college, took Gurratan to live with him.
Gurratan recently said: “I was getting a little scared, frankly, and anxious at home. And Jagmeet, at the perfect moment, took me to London, Ontario. “Now a provincial politician and an advisor to his older brother, Gurratan added,” I didn’t want him to feel those emotions again. “The couple lived together in a small apartment, and Jagmeet took on various jobs while juggling his college work.
Jagmeet Singh’s story of perseverance in the face of adversity and his knack for blending in with crowds made him a huge favorite when the party voted for a new leader in 2017.
But their initial honeymoon was short-lived: New Democrats veterans fled amid infighting and backstabbing. The party wasted money, and weak poll numbers suggested Singh would have to fight hard to win a seat in parliament and prevent the party from splitting nationally.
Its popularity soared after a powerful debate in the 2019 election, but the cash-strapped party was able to do little to capitalize on the success. Two years later, and with many more funds, Singh’s face appears on billboards, public transport, social networks and in the newly launched “Jagmeet’s Booty“Including t-shirts celebrating” the Jagmeet UpriSingh. ” He also has a huge following on TikTok, where his videos, ranging from political critiques to clips of him on a skateboard, regularly garner millions of views.
“It’s a personality-driven app. If you have charisma and personality in front of the camera, that will benefit you, “said Wave Wyld, a Toronto-based TikTok consultant.” There aren’t many politicians on TikTok. “
Rather, he notes Trudeau’s use of photographs, rather than videos, highlighting the different ways they interact with social media.
“Trudeau is not making entertaining and engaging videos. He just speaks to the camera in a professional and serious tone about what he represents, ”he said. “But on TikTok, the culture is very fun and upbeat. And Jagmeet has played in that too. It makes him relatable, you don’t take yourself too seriously in the app. “
But TikTok views mean little unless Singh can convert them into votes. Under Canada’s parliamentary system, where the country elects local candidates for the House of Commons rather than voting for party leaders, Singh’s preference only gets him so far.
“People tend to think of the NDP as a third party, not an alternative to government,” said Lori Turnbull, professor of political science at Dalhousie University. Singh’s ability to effectively grow his popularity is maximized because people don’t believe he is going to form a government. The electoral system is not his friend ”.
Unless a political miracle occurs, his party is poised to capture far fewer than the 170 seats needed for a majority, putting the new Democrats in third place. But if the poll projections turn out to be correct and a minority government is elected, Singh could maintain the balance of power in Ottawa.
For the past two years, his party has supported the Liberals. Singh claims his party got concessions on emergency benefits from the coronavirus, but Turnbull says it didn’t go far enough. “It should have been tougher on Trudeau. I should have had more to show for the support of the NDP, ”he said.
In the last election, Singh refused to work with then-Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. But this time he has expressed his willingness to collaborate with O’Toole on policies that both parties consider priorities, such as childcare and housing.
A change in Trudeau’s political fortunes could produce a scenario in which the Conservatives win more seats than the Liberals, but still need the support of another party to govern.
“Singh… doesn’t want to be in the back seat of the Liberal car. He wants to have a presence in shaping politics, ”Turnbull said. “If he and O’Toole feel like they can take Trudeau down, it could be too juicy a prospect to pass up.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism