Politics Blog: A new shot for the NDP

This weekend, the New Democratic Party leadership race concluded on Oct. 1, with excited chants and cheers. The final answer to the contest is Jagmeet Singh, the Sikh MPP from Brampton, Ont. Singh represents a new chapter of the NDP and the nation as a whole. His platform is one that strikes the balance Canadians need between social progress and economic strength.  

His economic plan consists largely of public and community infrastructure programs financed and supported by the federal government. While getting Canadians the jobs and opportunities they need, Singh also aims to expand the social safety net and protect those at risk of falling through the cracks. Capitalism is unsustainable when it allows citizens to collapse from the continuous boom-and-bust cycles, and this is something that Singh has learned working with communities in Ontario.

Not that this would be on credit. Unlike the Liberals’ cowboy deficit, Singh plans to implement unrealized NDP promises to expand the top tax bracket and raise the tax rate on the richest Canadians. To further this expansion of revenue and oppose the looming aristocracy and corporate oligarchs, the party plans to eliminate tax exemptions for wealthy corporations and create a proper estate tax.

These are all things that NDP members have talked about working towards at the national and local levels for some time but now, are being brought together in a new charismatic form.  Already, Liberal Toronto-based MPs are looking nervous as Singh’s strongest support came from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The next elections will see a fierce battle for control of southern Ontario, with a new grassroots advantage to the Singh-led NDP. The party has also been making a series of victories in provincial politics for the last several years, and he expects to bring that victory to Parliament.

Although an experienced politician on the provincial scene, Singh is still viewed as an outsider.  As the new party leader, he brings the issues and struggles that matter to Canadians now to a federal system that always seems at least one election out of step with people outside the doors of Parliament. That said, he’s clearly his own man and has a confidence and charisma that puts Justin Trudeau’s own pretty-boy style to shame, and a platform that  saw thousands of new members joining the NDP over the course of the leadership race.

Yet, the most talked about aspect of Jagmeet Singh has been his turban.

As Canadians, this shouldn’t be as novel as it seems to be in the media, yet somehow the appearance of a brown-skinned Sikh at the head of a national party has the press dumbfounded. Singh is not a conventional politician, and his message of inclusion and unity among Canadians of all backgrounds resonates with the NDP and the nation. He not only says but lives the message that differences in Canada need not be divisive, and that all Canadians fundamentally want to live their own fulfilled lives. This is what the New Democrats stand for, and Singh brings a fresh approach to long-held principles. More than just a historic change, Singh offers the NDP a real shot at forming a powerful government in 2019.