Jagmeet Singh, the federal NDP leader who isn’t on the public payroll because he remains unelected has never drawn a salary from his party and doesn’t intend to receive a paycheque until its finances “significantly” improve.
James Smith, his press secretary disclosed the leader’s lack of compensation when asked about Singh’s donations to the NDP since he made the jump from Queen’s Park to federal politics last year.
Financial returns to Elections Canada show Singh donated $10 on Aug. 16, 2017: $5 to his own leadership campaign and $5 to the party. They were the only contributions Singh made to the NDP since the 2015 federal election.
The records by contrast, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have donated more than $100 per month since at least the beginning of 2017. Because of their positions in Parliament — as prime minister and opposition leader — Trudeau’s salary is $350,000 while Scheer earns about $260,000 per year. An MP will earn about $176,000 this year.
Singh doesn’t have a seat in the House of Commons and has never committed to running before the 2019 election.
Smith explained that discussions were held in the months since on how the party could pay its leader without a seat, and the idea was that he would receive the equivalent of an MP’s salary.
At least one other party would have considered a similar arrangement: the Conservative party constitution says a leader who doesn’t sit in Parliament can draw an MP-equivalent salary from the party.
But at some point this spring, Singh opted to forgo regular paycheques while the NDP strives for stronger financial footing, Smith said. The party does cover Singh’s expenses, such as when he travels for NDP business, but otherwise Singh lives off his personal finances, Smith said.
Smith added, “The leader has decided to not receive a salary until the party is in a significantly improved financial situation.”
“We are moving in that direction,” he added, without providing specific figures.
The party’s fundraising also fell sharply after the election — from $18.6 million in 2015 to $5.4 million in 2016, according to Elections Canada — and part of Singh’s strength for many observers during last year’s leadership campaign was his record of bringing in money.
During the race, Singh raked in $1.04 million in donations — almost as much as his three opponents combined, according to their campaign returns filed with Elections Canada.
The party raised almost $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2018, with Singh as leader, compared with roughly $910,000 for the same time period in 2017.
As for Singh’s donation habits, Smith said they could change if he agrees to take a salary or if he runs and wins a seat — and the paycheques that come with it — before the next election.
Singh is urging the party rank-and-file to open their wallets.