NDP’s Singh faces Fairy Creek protesters during campaign stop in Toronto

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh records a video for social media and is applauded by Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath during a campaign stop in Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson.

A group of demonstrators called on Jagmeet Singh to make the Fairy Creek old-growth logging standoff an election issue as the NDP leader made a push for voters in a Liberal-held riding.

“Indigenous communities have to be supported. We can’t come in as settlers and tell them what to do,” Singh told the handful of demonstrators in the Toronto riding of Davenport.

Singh said he’s spoken with Indigenous leaders in the area who want support with conservation efforts. But he said it’s important Indigenous people lead any decisions about resources on their traditional territory.

Almost 1,000 people have been arrested in protests over the logging of old-growth forests in the area on Vancouver Island since May when the RCMP started to enforce a B.C. Supreme Court injunction against blockades erected in several areas near logging sites. The forestry company is in court this week to apply for a one-year extension of the injunction.

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Niklas Agarwal, 25, with Climate Justice Toronto, said the federal New Democrats need to stand up and support an end to all old-growth logging in British Columbia. Agarwal said Singh makes efforts to connect with young people on social media and doing dances on TikTok, but the New Democrats will lose young voters if he doesn’t take a stand.

“As young people we need a climate plan that actually is bold and transformative,” Agarwal said.

The group was also disappointed, Agarwal said, that Singh would not say whether he’d end the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Earlier, Singh faced questions about the New Democrats’ tax on the wealthy and affordable housing strategy, major points of the party’s platform that have faced some criticism for a lack of details.

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He said the New Democrats are proposing things that haven’t been done in a long time but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

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Singh did say he would never consider taxing capital gains on primary residences.

“That would never happen under a New Democrat government,” he said.

Singh added he’s not concerned progressives will vote Liberal and has stayed laser-focused on criticizing Justin Trudeau.

The party will later be visiting Jack Layton’s former riding of Toronto-Danforth. It has been in Liberal Julie Dabrusin’s hands since 2015. Singh has said he’d like to see the riding named after his late predecessor.

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