Who is Jameet Singh and why does he matter?

I’ll be honest: I’ve hardly noticed Jagmeet Singh in the last year or two but I think I might want to pay attention now …

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… the young, hip, stylish former criminal defence lawyer and now deputy leader of the Ontario New Democrats may be, in the words of the Globe and Mail‘s Adam Radwanski, a HUGE threat to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals because “To some extent, any NDP leader might be more threatening to Mr. Trudeau than whoever winds up leading the Conservatives. That’s not a reflection just on the Tories’ contest, uninspiring though it may be, but also on long-standing voter patterns. Far more voters move between the Liberals and New Democrats than between either of those parties and the Tories, who have the most loyal backers and the most people unwilling to vote for them … [and] … if the Jack Layton era demonstrated anything, it’s that when the NDP seems more in touch than the Liberals with blue-collar and middle-class voters, huge shifts can happen in a hurry.

In an opinion piece in the Toronto Sun, self described Liberal activist Omar Khan says that “You maybe haven’t heard of Jagmeet Singh but he keeps Liberal Party activists like me awake at night … [because] … This past week, several media outlets reported that the 38-year-old lawyer, of Brampton, Ont., is poised to throw his hat into the ring to become the next leader of the federal NDP … [and] … guess what? He’s likely to win … [because] … he represents the only chance Canada’s social democratic movement has of taking power anytime in the next decade … [and, by way of background] … We were undergrads together at the University of Western Ontario in the late ’90s. What I remember from those days was that he always spoke out against things he felt to be unjust, from alleged police brutality to cases of international injustice … [and] … Although largely unknown outside Ontario and broader NDP circles, Singh could inject some much-needed excitement into what has been a truly uninspiring race thus far … [because] … Singh has some key advantages over his square competitors – the first of which is that he has a compelling personal narrative.

We must remember that the late Jack Layton energized Canadians in 2011 and Thomas Mulcair was, still is, a much more effective parliamentary leader than Justin Trudeau can ever hope to be … intellect does count.

Jagmeet Singh is an accomplished, bright, sophisticated, media savvy young man who might be just what the NDP needs … he might, also, be Justin Trudeau’s (and the next CPC leader’s) worst nightmare, and, potentially (lots of maybes) Canada’s first NDP prime minister. He has, the Globe and Mail reports, launched his bid to lead the NDP. Now we shall watch to see how well he does in re-energizing that party.

 

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