By Promod Puri
Irrespective of the party’s reduced numbers from 39 to 24, Jagmeet Singh’s led New Democratic Party is going to have more clout in the governing politics and policies of Canada.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won 157 seats compared to 177 in the 2015 election. Short of 170-mark, the ruling party needs NDP’s backing for its second term to rule as a minority government.
The 24-seat NDP win, in fact, has halted the surge of the Conservative Party that raised its strength from 95 to 121. Throughout the election campaign, the poll numbers gave the Tories some percentage point lead over the Liberals.
The loss of the Liberal seats did not result in the gain for the Tories. Come, Jagmeet Singh, the NDP did not let Canada’s political Right to takeover the loosely linked Left-of-the-centre and the Left political turf.
In the election juggernaut, the NDP leader led an impressive and clean campaign that earned him the distinction of as the most admirable and likable leader compared to Trudeau and Andrew Sheer of the right-wing Conservative Party. Jagmeeet Singh’s popularity was rated at 59 percent compared to around 30 percent each for Trudeau and Sheer.
In fact, the proud turbaned leader emerged as the real hero in the electoral fights throughout the campaigns, where besides campaigning, he was seeking acceptance of his ethnic identity as well.
An interesting interaction took place on October 2 when a fellow Canadian in Quebec asked New Democratic Leader to “cut off” his turban to look “like a Canadian.”
In a poised and cool manner, which is the image he has created for himself, Jagmeet Singh responded: “I think Canadians look like all sorts of people.”
The man tried another approach: “in Rome, you do as the Romans do.” A polite response from Mr. Singh: “But this is Canada, you can do whatever you like.”
In agreement, the man nodded, “I hope you win.”
Jagmeet Singh came to federal politics only in 2017, and it has been a challenging task to introduce himself in an outfit not much seen before. But he dared to do so without compromising with his Sikh identity. Even many among the Indo-Canadian community have been uneasy with his round style of “pagg.”
Ethnic identity representation is part of the Canadian mosaic. Jagmeet Singh contributes to this aspect of Canadian multiculturalism both in his personal and political life.
Besides being a symbol of Canada’s multiculturalism, Jagmeet Singh, as leader of the Left-leaning NDP, now has some control steering the direction Canada moves domestically and globally.
In the upcoming minority government, he and his party, in partnership with the Liberal Party, are expected to resume the progressive agenda that made Canada a global symbol in the worldwide struggle against the rise of authoritarianism, populism, and white nationalism.
The Trudeau government was marked by compassionate policies to welcome thousands of refugees in the last few years, increased immigration quotas, a record number of ethnic and women ministers in his cabinet, and emotional apologies for the serious wrongs past Canadian governments committed on indigenous peoples and visible minorities.
But lately, there has been a conspicuous erosion of his progressive platform that relates to environmental issues, human rights, and continuing sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, notorious for its human rights violations and crimes.
The Liberal-NDP combine will get Canada back to its liberal, humanist, and compassionate image in the world left with a few rules-based, progressive, and true democracies.
(Promod Puri is a writer, journalist, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)