NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has earned a seat in the House of Commons and all it took was a move across the country.
Singh won the Burnaby South byelection on Monday night, nearly 18 months after winning the federal NDP leadership. The 40-year-old captured 39 per cent of the vote.
Liberal candidate Richard T. Lee finished second with 26 per cent and Conservative candidate Jay Shin was in third with 22.5 per cent. Laura-Lynn Thompson of the People’s Party of Canada finished fourth with 10.6 per cent.
WATCH: Jagmeet Singh one-on-one with Global BC’s Richard Zussman
“It’s a new day,” Singh told a crowd of supporters following the win.
“Friends, we made history today. When I was growing up I could have never imagined someone like me ever running to be prime minster. But guess what, we just told a lot of kids out there that, yes you can.”
While victory tightens Singh’s shaky grip on the reins of the NDP, the challenge ahead was underscored by the simultaneous loss of the Montreal riding that launched the NDP’s orange wave that swept Quebec in 2011.
In Outremont, Liberal contender Rachel Bendayan held more than 42 per cent of the vote with two-thirds of the riding’s polls reporting results, with the NDP’s Julia Sanchez running second with just over 25 per cent.
WATCH: Jagmeet Singh’s full victory speech
The campaign has been an eventful one. Singh was put under pressure to run for the NDP in a byelection and was ultimately convinced to move to B.C.
In January the race took a bizarre twist when Liberal candidate Karen Wang resigned after pressure from the party. She had made controversial comments on a Chinese-language social media platform suggesting voters should vote for her as a Chinese-Canadian, and singled out Singh as being “of Indian origin.”
Singh’s political roots are in Ontario. He grew up in Metro Toronto and served as a Member of Provincial Parliament in Bramalea—Gore—Malton. He decided to move west for a chance at getting into the House of Commons before October’s provincial election.
“I love it here. The winters are pretty amazing,” Singh said before Monday night’s win. “But more importantly I love the people here. They are incredible folks. It is a testament of how incredible our country is from coast to coast to coast. We have incredible people that call Canada home, folks that really want to take care of one another and I really am tapping into that energy to lead a party that really wants to make people‘s lives better.”
Globalnews.ca coverage of the Burnaby South byelection
Singh is expected to take his seat soon once the results from Monday’s vote are made official.
The NDP has been trailing both the Liberals and the Conservatives in the national polls and will now have an opportunity to push Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on crucial issues in Question Period.
WATCH: Jagmeet Singh: ‘We are all connected to one another’
The SNC-Lavalin scandal involving Trudeau and former minister Jody Wilson-Raybould made national headlines during the campaign. Singh is calling for an independent public inquiry into alleged attempts from the Prime Minister’s Office to pressure Wilson-Raybould into dropping charges against SNC-Lavalin.
Singh said he has a lot of work to do ahead of October’s federal election.
“We have eight more months to let the people know that they can choose a government that stands up for people not for corporations, that doesn’t give handouts to SNC-Lavalin, but stands up for everyday Canadians.”
— With files from Jon Azpiri and The Canadian Press