"This has been an incredible night," Singh said as he addressed a room full of supporters in Burnaby late Monday.
"We're going to make sure that the energy that we built over this campaign, the excitement that we built and that the focus that we put on people's struggles continues so that we can play a constructive and positive role in the new parliament that Canadians have chosen."
Singh made history in 2017 when he became the first non-white leader of a major Canadian political party. But until last winter, he led the NDP without a federal seat.
Singh first won Burnaby South in a byelection in February, held to replace Kennedy Stewart, the former NDP MP who vacated the seat after a successful run to become Vancouver's mayor.
That month, Singh beat the second-place Liberals and the third-place Conservatives by a handy margin.
In the general election campaign, the NDP leader led a loose, largely error-free campaign that received a surge of momentum late in the 40-day race, although the party couldn't turn it into seat gains — Singh's party won 24 seats in the election, as the count stood early Tuesday, fewer than the 39 the party had going into the election
But Singh vowed his party will play a constructive role in the new Parliament that Canadians have chosen, a message he also delivered to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in a phone call Monday night.
Singh held his seat in Burnaby South with 37.5 per cent of the vote, according to preliminary numbers.
In retrospect, it’s no coincidence that Singh invoked Tommy Douglas’s name when he released the party’s platform in June with its emphasis on expanding health care to include drugs, dental costs as well as costs of eye and hearing care. Douglas introduced universal health care as premier of Saskatchewan. But in the 1960s, Douglas led the federal NDP when it held the balance of power in Lester Pearson’s minority governments. Those minority Parliaments resulted in national health care, the Canada Pension Plan, a new flag and the abolition of capital punishment.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May opted not to run a candidate in the earlier race, as a courtesy, but put forward veteran campaigner Brennan Wauters for the general election.
Liberal candidate Neelam Brar was a newcomer to the race. She has lived in Burnaby South for more than 20 years and claimed to have a long track record as an entrepreneur and a community leader.
The Liberals need help to govern. How much they need and what they’re willing to do for it will have to wait until the seat count is finalized. Meantime, Singh will bide his time. He’s already talked to B.C. Premier John Horgan about his successful minority government and its agreement with its Green Party partners. But Singh won’t say if that’s what he wants. But Singh likes minority governments.
Shin, a lawyer, grew up in Burnaby and earned both a masters of business administration and a bachelor of laws. He was called to the bar in 1991 and has been practising business law for more than two decades.
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Singh and his wife Gurkiran Kaur wave to supporters on stage at NDP election headquarters in Burnaby, B.C., on Oct. 21, 2019 (Nathan Denette/CP)
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says New Democrats will play constructive role in Parliament
There was a moment in the English leaders debate when NDP leader Jagmeet Singh urged to Canadians to reject the notion they must vote for one of Canadas two dominant parties. You dont have to choose between Mr. Delay and Mr. Deny. The remark may have been scripted, but after Monday nights election results made it clear Canadians would have a minority government, with the NDP possibly holding the balance of power, it seemed prescient. Even though Singh lost seats, there was a feeling the NDP had gained power.
In his election night speech, Singh promised to exert as much pressure as he could to achieve a national pharmacare program, affordable housing, student loan interest forgiveness and meaningful reconciliation with Canadas First Nations. He also pledged to push to make sure Canada is a leader in the global fight against the climate crisis: I spoke with Mr. Trudeau earlier tonight and let him know well be working hard to deliver on the priorities all Canadians have.
Singh said he was sorry he couldnt visit all parts of the country — notably Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I. and the North. He tried to make the argument he would represent all voters in Canada, no matter where they live, even if he didnt have a chance to shake hands with them or pose for photos.
Whether Singh will have as much influence as he would like in the next government is far from certain. The NDPs 15.9 per cent of the popular vote was 3.8 points lower than its share in 2015, and Singhs caucus will be 14 MPs smaller than it was at dissolution. At this stage, its not even clear the Liberals will seek formal support from the NDP to govern.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh elected in Burnaby South
Still, Singhs supporters were hopeful. There wasnt a person at his celebration at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown who seemed to feel the campaign had failed. Going into this campaign, expectations were very low, Raj Sihota, the executive director of the B.C. NDP, acknowledged. There was some speculation the NDP might not even be able to hold onto party status. Singh delivered, she said. He ran an energetic campaign and he inspired people. Its a good base from which to build.
Singhs tenure as party leader got off to a rocky start. Without a seat in Parliament, he had trouble gaining traction after being elected leader in 2017. There were a few bright moments—photos of his 2018 proposal and subsequent marriage to Gurkiran Kaur caused a fleeting buzz on social media. He chose to run in a byelection in Burnaby South, a riding vacated by former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart who stepped down to run for mayor of Vancouver. It was a risky move. Stewart hadnt won by a large margin, and Singh, whose political career was forged in Ontario, wasnt well known in B.C. He won the seat, but heading into the election was faced with the resignation of a string of long-time NDP MPs, including veterans Nathan Cullen from B.C., Hamilton, Ont.s David Christopherson and Singh’s predecessor as NDP leader, Tom Mulcair.
Jagmeet Singh out to an early lead in Burnaby South
Singhs greatest challenge was the two years prior to the campaign, says Glen Clark, the former NDP premier of B.C., who attended the celebration. He had a lot of incumbent MPs retire, and raising money was difficult. But I thought he ran a nice campaign and he carries himself so well, its refreshing, Clark said. Patrice Pratt, a former B.C. NDP provincial party president, said its always a challenge for a new leader to forge their own style. Always these new guys have to find their feet, find their voice.
Jagmeet Singh Uses TikTok To Highlight NDP Platform
There was a freshness about Singhs campaign that was reflected Monday in the youthful, diverse crowd of cheering supporters. Even the choice of music—Imagine Dragons and his campaigns signature song Differentology (Ready Fi Di Road) by Bunji Garlin—skewed young. Darian Russo, a recent university graduate who worked on Singhs campaign, said Canadians responded well to Singh during the campaign. The more they saw of Jagmeet, the more they liked him.
And while Singh didnt set out to make racism an election issue, it became one after the photos surfaced showing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in blackface as a young man. Singhs response, which was muted and heartfelt, spoke straight to racialized young people, reminding them they have value, worth and are loved. It meant a lot to Sukhpreet, an NDP supporter and Sikh who wears a turban. Ive been in those situations where Ive gotten angry and sworn,” he said. “Hes shown us and the next generation how to deal with racism. Sukhpreet Singh said the NDP leader got a rough ride at the beginning of the campaign: The media was hard on him. Canadians were hard on him. But the rookie leader weathered all that and ran a great campaign, he said. For us its twofold. Were proud of the party and were proud of Jagmeet as well.
Singhs supporters hope that the NDP will now have increased power, pointing out that past minority governments yielded Medicare and pension plans. In his election night speech, Singh promised to push for even greater gains. New Democrats are going to be working hard to make sure your life is better,” he promised. “That Canadians lives are better.