Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Burnaby on Sunday rallying the troops ahead of an anticipated byelection in the Burnaby South riding.
Singh has been without a seat in parliament since being elected NDP leader in fall 2017. The byelection is needed to replace former MP Kennedy Stewart, who is now mayor of Vancouver.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had been expected to call the Burnaby South byelection for early February, a date that now looks unlikely to happen with the 35-day minimum campaign period.
“It looks like Trudeau is again delaying byelections in Burnaby South,” Singh told assembled supporters on Sunday.
“This is a decision that impacts the bedrock of our democracy. Having an elected representative in Ottawa is the bedrock of our representational government, of our system … They’re doing it in their own political interest, and that’s deeply disappointing.”
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Singh took the opportunity to stump further on what will likely be key themes of his campaign: housing affordability and a pharmacare program for access to prescription drugs.
Singh, a former Ontario MPP, has pledged to move to Burnaby if he wins the byelection, but it won’t be an easy battle.
The Liberals have selected daycare operator Karen Wang to carry their banner into the vote, and she has already begun attacking Singh for his lack of ties to the community.
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What’s more, only 547 votes separated the NDP’s Kennedy Stewart from the Liberals’ Adam Pankratz in the 2015 election, putting the riding squarely in the “toss-up” category.
Singh hasn’t indicated if he will step down as leader in the event he doesn’t win.
The Conservative Party of Canada is running lawyer Jay Shin, while the Greens say they’ll extend “leader’s courtesy” to Singh, and won’t run a candidate against him.
Trudeau has also yet to call two other outstanding byelections for Outremont, Que., and York-Simcoe, Ont.