Jagmeet Singh stop in London lends last-minute rally for battleground riding

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh greets a crowd of supporters at the Sweet Onion Bistro in London, Ont., during a campaign stop in the city's Wortley Village neighbourhood. Andrew Graham / Global News

Wortley Village was drowned in a sea of orange on Wednesday morning as NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh paid a visit to London, Ont.

Singh arrived to more than 100 supporters waiting outside of Sweet Onion Bistro in what marked one of several stops throughout Ontario that day.

Read more: Liberals, Conservatives in dead heat as campaign enters final week: poll

While he spent most of the visit mingling with supporters, snapping selfies and bumping forearms, the party leader did provide a brief speech surrounding issues upon which the NDP have focused throughout the 2021 election campaign.

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Singh told supporters about what he describes as the “cost to voting for the Liberals.”

“There’s a cost when Justin Trudeau tells Indigenous people that he’s going to (give them) clean drinking water, and he breaks that promise,” Singh said.

“We have seen the cost of Mr. Trudeau talking about tackling the housing crisis, and instead of doing anything to make it more affordable, it’s actually gotten worse.”

The NDP leader also promised to tax Canada’s super-wealthy, invest in health care and take on major telecom companies with “unlimited zeal.”

“Big shoutout to London, we’re going to paint this town orange and we’re going to make a difference for people in this country,” Singh added, before moving into the crowd to greet supporters.

Read more: 2 NDP candidates resign after social media comments on Israel, Auschwitz

The visit comes just five days before the federal election and takes place in a riding that may see its first-ever NDP seat in the House of Commons.

London West lacks an incumbent in the 2021 race after Liberal MP Kate Young announced in March that she would not seek re-election. The move brought an end to her two-term rule over the riding for the Trudeau Liberals, which she won in 2015 after beating then-incumbent and Conservative MP Ed Holder, who now serves as London’s mayor.

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The current contest for London West includes city councillor Arielle Kayabaga for the Liberals, Rob Flack for the Conservatives, Shawna Lewkowitz for the NDP and Mike McMullen for the People’s Party of Canada.

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Canada election: Protesters throw gravel at Trudeau in London, Ont – Sep 6, 2021

An associate professor of political science at Western University, Cristine de Clercy says there’s still good reason to believe that either the Liberals, New Democrats or Conservatives could take London West, even with less than a week before the election.

“Particularly, in light of national polls that suggest the Liberals and Conservatives are still pretty proximate to each other and that the New Democratic Party, under Mr. Singh, has been picking up votes, especially in urban ridings,” said de Clercy, who also serves as co-director for Western’s Leadership and Democracy Laboratory.

“It’s certainly possible that London West could be a lot more in play than it was in the last election.”

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Read more: What does an incumbent void mean for the election campaign in London West?

From a political analyst’s perspective, de Clercy says she’ll spend election day keeping a close eye on voter turnout in London West and other key ridings, especially ones that lack incumbents.

“That’s one factor that many people are worried about in this election, that too many Canadians will sit on their hands, and so some contests could be decided by the lack of turnout really, rather than the number of people who actually cast a vote,” de Clercy said, adding that COVID-19 also creates a new layer of uncertainty.

“Voters might just decide on election day the polling line is too long, they’re too crowded, the weather isn’t good for voting.”

Canadians head to the polls on Sept. 20.

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Canada election: Liberals and Conservatives in dead heat as campaign enters final days, poll finds – Sep 15, 2021

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