As thousands of Sikh people flocked to the Manitoba Legislative Building’s lawn and paraded through downtown Sunday to celebrate Nagar Kirtan — the anniversary of the Sikh holy scriptures — so did politicians, including federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
Singh paraded alongside provincial NDP leader Wab Kinew and federal candidate for Elmwood-Transcona Daniel Blaikie.
Singh is the first Sikh federal party leader in Canada — dozens of people crowded him to take selfies before the parade kicked off, a Global News reporter observed.
Following the parade, Singh gave a brief speech in Punjabi peppered with English words like “billionaires” and “health care” before being whisked off the stage — again beset by dozens of people seeking a photograph with him — and into a taxi cab.
Media weren’t able to ask him questions. A staffer told Global News that Singh had to get to the airport.
Kinew welcomed the support of the federal leader in the run up to the provincial election.
“To me that’s a great sign of momentum,” Kinew said of Singh’s appearance at the event. “Everybody loved to see him, everybody was taking selfies with him, it was a really strong sign of momentum for our team.”
“We always have to keep campaigning and look to win the support of everyone across Manitoba,” Kinew said when asked whether Singh’s appearance might boost his support in the Sikh community. “But to have Jagmeet Singh, the federal leader, come in, that’s a strong sign of momentum… hopefully that does win us some support too.”
The provincial Tories were out in force at the event, showing support for the Sikh community.
Lagimodière PC candidate Andrew Smith wouldn’t comment on Singh’s appearance in Winnipeg.
“We’re focused on what we’re doing and talking to constituents, getting out there, we’re door knocking every day,” Smith said. “Today we want to take some time to celebrate Nagar Kirtan with the great Sikh community.”
The provincial Liberals, federal Liberals and municipal politicians all attended the event.
Manitobans go to the polls Sept. 10. The federal election has yet to be called, but legally needs to be held on or before Oct. 21.
WATCH: Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew