By Nina Kalirai
Canadian Politics recently witnessed a new advancement as the country saw its first ever election of a Visible Minority Group member, as a political party leader. Sikh politician Jagmeet Singh has been elected as the new leader of the New Democratic Party.
Singh won the election with over 35 000 votes, which is more than 50% of the total votes.
Singh gained international attention during the elections when a video went viral of a woman being aggressive towards him at one of his campaign rallies in Brampton, Ontario. In the video, the woman can be seen yelling in Singh’s face, accusing him of “being in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood”, despite the fact that Singh is of Sikh faith.
© Globe and Mail on YouTube
Singh’s response to the woman was to tell her that she is loved and welcomed, getting the crowd to chant “love and courage”.
The response received praises by people worldwide.
After winning the election, Singh said the party owed a debt to former leader Tom Mulclair, who Singh credits with helping the party through a difficult time after the passing of Jack Layton.
Singh also spoke to the difficulties he faced growing up saying:
“While I was in university, my father became very ill and my father was unable to work. We needed to pay the bills, so in my 20s I became the sole income earner in my family.”
“We were lucky to find a way out of this precarious situation, but many people don’t. Many people face far more difficult struggles. That’s why it’s unacceptable for the government to tell people to just get used to unstable work.” –Jagmeet Singh
Singh took it upon himself to care for his younger brother, buying his clothes, sending him to school and even showing up for parent-teacher interviews.
Singh said, “We were lucky to find a way out of this precarious situation, but many people don’t. Many people face far more difficult struggles. That’s why it’s unacceptable for the government to tell people to just get used to unstable work.”
Singh also addressed his promise to end carding and said as prime minister he will make sure that no one in Canada is stopped by police because of the way they look or colour of their skin. Carding was an issue Singh faced growing up with long hair, brown skin and an ethnic name.
Singh ended his speech announcing that he is officially launching his campaign to be the next prime minister of Canada, thanking the crowd and emphasizing that they will do this together.
Singh’s win to become the new NDP leader, after winning more than 50% of the total votes, is a major step forward for Canada. It will be an even bigger step forward if he wins the election to become Prime Minister in 2019.