Jagmeet Singh wants a seat in the House of Commons. The federal NDP leader announced on Wednesday that he plans to run for the party in an upcoming byelection in Burnaby South, B.C.
“I’m running because Trudeau betrayed people on electoral reform. I am running because we can’t wait two years to find a solution to affordable housing. We need prescription medication covered now,” Singh said.
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“We don’t need a public government to invest billions of dollars in a leaky pipeline.”
WATCH: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh officially announces run for seat in Burnaby South riding
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not announced yet when the byelection may take place.
The seat was left vacant when NDP MP Kennedy Stewart resigned to seek the mayor’s job in Vancouver. Trudeau has no obligation to announce the byelection before next fall’s federal election.
Singh has never lived in British Columbia and previously served as a member of Ontario’s provincial assembly in a riding that covered parts of Brampton and Mississauga. His plan is to move to Burnaby, where he will run in the riding in the 2019 federal election as well as in the byelection.
“I am all-in on Burnaby and we are going to run here,” said Singh.
The 39-year-old was chosen as the party’s leader on Oct. 1, 2017 and has been without a seat in Ottawa.
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Kennedy Stewart defeated Liberal candidate Adam Pankratz by 547 votes in the 2015 federal election. Singh says it is crucial for him to be in Ottawa to question the prime minister as often as possible.
“It is very important that we are in a position to push the federal government. I want to push the government to really tackle things like implementing a pharma care system and dealing with the affordable housing crisis,” said Singh.
“There are a lot of things that need to be done and I want to be there.”
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During his announcement, Singh listed a number of issues that are of concern to both people in Burnaby South and across the country. Those issues include the purchase of the Kinder Morgan pipeline by the federal government, a universal pharma care plan and affordable housing.
“Something as basic as having a place to call home is unachievable for many Canadians,” said Singh. “It is simply unacceptable.”
University of British Columbia political scientist Richard Johnston says Singh will benefit from being in the House of Commons if he wins the byelection.
“He has to run in Burnaby, all along it would have been better to have had him in the house. And, finally, an NDP seat is opening up,” said Johnston. “I think if he ducked the challenge it would have been held against (him).”
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“His odds aren’t bad. But the Liberal vote, which was strong last time, was arguably part of the wave for Justin Trudeau.”
The federal Liberals have responded to Singh’s announcement with a statement.
More Global News coverage of Singh announcement:
“Liberals in Burnaby South are looking forward to a campaign focused on Justin Trudeau’s positive plan to create jobs, strengthen the middle class and improve the lives of families in Burnaby,” reads the statement. “We wish Mr. Singh well as his party’s candidate in the riding, and we’re looking forward to a positive campaign to contrast our ideas with the other parties.”