The stakes are high for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a Metro Vancouver byelection race, as the recent Liberal turmoil has been a “gift” to his campaign.
The 40-year-old former Ontario legislator has lacked a voice in Parliament since becoming party leader in the fall of 2017. Now he finally has his chance in Burnaby South as voters in the riding cast their ballots on Monday after a six-week race.
The Liberals got off to a rocky start when their first candidate, Karen Wang, resigned after pointing out Singh’s ethnicity online. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been besieged by allegations his office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
Singh said he’s not taking anything for granted but he’s confident his hard work to connect with voters will pay off.
“I think people are very disappointed with what’s going on with the Liberal government,” he said.
“Canadians expect our government works in our interest. It looks more and more like this government and Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal party are working in the interest of a massive multinational corporation.”
By-elections typically have low turnouts, but there is evidence the results of them are driven by the popularity of the government and its leader, said Richard Johnston, a University of British Columbia political science professor.
“(Singh) may have been handed the gift of some voters as a result of all this,” he said. “Although it’s just one thing amongst many, boy, he could use a win right now.”
Singh has faced criticism for poor fundraising and low poll numbers. Burnaby South occupies historically strong NDP territory, so if Singh can’t win in the riding, it adds to the interpretation that he hasn’t secured the support of party loyalists, said Johnston.