January 6, 2019 7:44 pm
Updated: January 7, 2019 5:44 am

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh campaigns in Burnaby, says Trudeau delaying byelections

Jagmeet Singh says the Prime Minister is playing politics after failing to call a byelection for the vacant riding. Keith Baldrey reports.

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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.

READ MORE: Jagmeet Singh readies for B.C. by-election battle ahead of 2019 election

“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.”

WATCH: Trudeau says byelections in seats vacated ‘mere weeks ago’ will be filled ‘soon’

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.

READ MORE: Liberals pick daycare operator to battle NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in Burnaby South byelection

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.

WATCH: What will it take for Jagmeet Singh to win in B.C.?

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.

READ MORE: NDP fumes as Trudeau calls byelection in Ontario, but not B.C.

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.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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