WINNIPEG / VANCOUVER, Sept. 15 (Reuters) – Leader of Canada’s left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) Jagmeet Singh is set to recover from a 2019 election error and strengthen his position as a maker of kings in the next government of the country.
Singh, the first visible minority to lead a major Canadian federal party, helped support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority government for two years and could take over that role. A close race means the Liberals or Conservatives could end up with another minority after the September 20 election.
Singh, 42, a criminal defense lawyer who turned NDP leader in 2017, surpasses Trudeau and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole in personal popularity, according to polls and surveys. But the NDP lags both parties in the polls, with 20% support among undecided voters, compared to 32% for the Liberals and Conservatives, according to a Léger poll on Tuesday.
The NDP campaign has been on the offensive, with Singh going almost exclusively to districts where the party does not have a seat, a party official said.
The party, which currently has 24 seats in parliament, says it has more money than in 2019, when it finished third, and is actively trying to capitalize on Singh’s popularity and social media savvy.
Singh’s TikTok videos regularly garner over a million views and he quickly jumps to Instagram and Snapchat with campaign updates. Last year, he faced Democrat US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the popular video game Among Us, in a live fundraiser.
In the final days of the campaign, the NPD plans to feature him in the Nintendo video game Animal Crossing and plans to project his image onto the sides of buildings.
It is not known if this will result in more votes. The NDP could also see its traditional youth base affected by the lack of college polling stations this year, due to restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the party has a higher tendency in the polls this time around than in 2019.
“People didn’t really know Jagmeet Singh in the last election,” said Nikki Hill, who once helped lead federal NDP campaigns and is now an Earnscliffe political strategist. “What they’ve seen over the past two years is someone they really identify with. “
For the past two years, Singh has pushed for the Liberal government to spend more on social spending and has resisted previous government maneuvers to call an election, saying it was not necessary in the event of a pandemic.
Another minority government would make Liberals or Conservatives count on Singh to support the next government, giving the NDP an opportunity to make concessions on its priority issues such as government-paid drugs or dental care, l raise taxes on the rich, hike the minimum wage and write off student debt.
“People are tired of being taken for granted by the Liberals,” Singh told Reuters. “Things haven’t gotten better, they’ve gotten worse, so they’re looking forward to something different. “
Asked what commonalities the NDP could work on with the Liberals or the Conservatives, he said, “I’m less interested in committing to a party (to work with). I am committed to working on things that improve people’s lives. “
“If anyone wants to work with me to tax the super-rich, I invite people to do so,” Singh added.
Trudeau warned that progressive votes for the NDP, instead of the Liberals, could help elect the Tories, and he criticized Singh’s climate plan for its lack of detail.
The NDP has committed C $ 200 billion ($ 158.2 billion) in new spending over five years and promises to cut emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels. But in a recent debate executives, Singh avoided questioning whether he would reverse the expansion of the government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline.
The NDP must secure victories in British Columbia and the city of Toronto to consolidate significant gains, partly benefiting from a dysfunctional Green Party, pollsters say. The NDP could win six seats in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, according to a senior Conservative official.
The NDP could have more leverage in the next government because polls indicate it could be the only losing party, other than the Conservatives or the Liberals, with enough seats in the constituency to pass bills, said CIBC Chief Economist Avery Shenfeld.
Winning all of this is perhaps a step too far for the NDP, which has never held power at the federal level. In his best performance, he landed a shocking second place in 2011 and became the official opposition for a few years.
During a campaign stop at the end of August in Winnipeg, Indigenous leaders appeared with Singh at a press conference before unexpectedly supporting a Liberal in a Manitoba parliamentary constituency.
Singh looked awkwardly.
“All campaigns struggle at some point,” said Alex Marland, professor of political science at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Additional reporting by Julie Gordon and David Ljunggren in Ottawa Editing by Alistair Bell
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