Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP, is officially the candidate for the riding of Burnaby South, but a by-election to fill the spot left empty by Kennedy Stewart has not been announced.
Singh accepted the nomination at the local riding association’s nomination meeting, held on Saturday at the Alan Emmott Centre in South Burnaby. Singh, who said he is looking for a place to live in Burnaby South, was chosen as leader of the NDP last year and when Stewart left his position as MP for the riding to run for mayor of Vancouver, the riding opened up for Singh to run in.
Singh told the Burnaby Now that it’s been a long time since a federal leader has lived in B.C. and he hopes his profile as a national leader can be used to bring B.C. issues to the attention of federal politics, adding that splitting their time between their federal and local duties is a “reality every federal leader faces.”
“By being a federal leader and being from B.C. will help me shed more light on some of the struggles and some of the problems people face in B.C,” Singh told the Now.
“Being a federal leader gives me an ability to raise concerns in a way that’s even louder that will have more impact and I’m hoping to use that to raise concerns that the Burnaby residents are facing,” Singh added.
Singh has never lived in B.C., but he explained to the Now that he has visited the province “a lot.”
The hall at the Alan Emmott Centre was full of people who had come out to the nomination meeting, including several Burnaby councillors and NDP MLAs. Singh’s acceptance was greeted by applause and cheers. The Green Party of Canada has announced it will not run a candidate in Burnaby South.
After the nomination meeting, when asked about the housing crisis specifically in Burnaby South and in Metrotown, Singh pointed out the same situation is mirrored across the country, and questioned how the federal government could call it a crisis but not promise to roll out funding until after the next federal election.
“(Trudeau) could find $4.5 billion for a pipeline immediately but he can’t the funding to deal with the national crisis immediately,” Singh said.
He said an NDP government would offer a host of solutions, including non-market housing, income supports and support to housing co-operatives.
Singh recently was criticized by a group of former NDP politicians for not allowing a Saskatchewan MP to run again as an NDP after accusations of harassment. Responding to questions about criticism from within his own party of his decision not to allow MP Erin Weir to run as an NDP candidate, Singh said his caucus is “united” and he stands by his decision.
“I want to make it clear we’re in a tough time in terms of how do we move forward, not just as a party but as a society,” he said. “We know that for too long, workplaces have not been safe places – women have not felt safe in workplaces and I’m committed as leader to do my part to ensure that we don’t go backward, we’re not going backwards, we’re going forwards. Workplaces have to be safe, have to be free from harassment and I’m taking this as a responsibility.”
He added that parliament hill has had a culture of silence, where women didn’t make complaints because they were worried their employment would be in jeopardy.