New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh acknowledged Tuesday he and his party must do better at reaching Canadians, an admission he made as the party launched a caucus retreat in British Columbia amid criticism from its loyalists.
Singh said the NDP is united but there is a lot of work to do. He said he understands some Canadians feel the party’s voice hasn’t been strong enough in defending their interests on the environment, health care and housing.
“I’ve got to do a better job and our party’s got to do a better job of reaching out to understand those problems that people are facing and talk about the solutions: ‘How can we actually make this better and how do we put pressure on the government to actually get those results that we want?’ ” he said.
Just before the retreat, Singh made the remarks at a news conference in Surrey. The meeting comes at a challenging time for his leadership as NDP stalwarts are concerned about the party’s lacklustre fundraising results and Singh’s effectiveness.
He has also faced criticism for blocking Regina MP Erin Weir from running in the next election after an independent investigation upheld several complaints of harassment.
Many female New Democrat activists applauded Singh for the decision in a letter posted online Tuesday. It is signed by a group of women including former candidates and high-level organizers who said they appreciate Singh understands his “legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace.”
“He has taken that principled stand despite the political risk,” it said. “That’s the kind of leadership we need in 2018.”
Their letter of support contradicts a letter from 67 former New Democrat MPs and legislature members from Saskatchewan who wrote to NDP members of Parliament last week accusing Singh of denying Weir due process. After the investigation report was released in May, Weir vowed to keep fighting to clear his name.
Singh said his decision is final and it’s important for him to take a stand to ensure a safe workplace. Harassment has “no place” in the party, he said.
“I’m not going to change my decision because people in a position of privilege want to intimidate me,” he said.