Unpopular Opinion: the NDP should dump Jagmeet Singh


Published November 23, 2019 at 7:46 pm


Most people, when they’re thinking of a political party leader who should lose his current job, are probably thinking of the Conservatives’ Andrew Scheer or, to a lesser extent, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But perhaps the leader of Canada’s third party should also be under consideration.

Earlier this year, before the federal election took place, I penned an opinion piece asking if NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s leadership has been a total flop. Enough attention was given to it that I was asked by CBC Radio to go live on the air to talk about it. 

Judging from the NDP’s eventual results from the recent campaign, I would say my views have been vindicated.

From the incredible heights the party achieved getting Official Opposition status under the late Jack Layton with over 100 seats, to the dismal 24 they picked up on October 21, it’s clear that the ‘Orange Wave’ has disappeared over the horizon.

Even going into this election, the NDP was on the verge of being knocked out of third place in the polls by the Green Party, who had a climate change policy that resonated with the millennial and youth crowd the party was meant to attract under Singh.

The party that was the backbone of the social democratic and labour movement was even threatened with losing official party status, as a party requires at least 12 seats in the House of Commons to be ‘recognized’ as a party, along with funding for research and time asking the government questions.

Fortunately for them, that did not happen. But the NDP are now shunted back into fourth place, which is where they have traditionally been for the last decade as the separatist Bloc Quebecois took enough seats to be the third party in the House, as the Liberals and Conservatives once again became the clear alternatives for Canadian voters.

There were some bright spots that stood out during Singh’s campaign, such as his calm handling of a man in Montreal who said he should cut his turban off to “look more Canadian” and his reaction to Justin Trudeau’s brownface / blackface scandal. For a while, he looked like a threat to the Liberals, but the “Singh Surge” was DOA on election night. In terms of actual votes, the slick marketing and debate soundbites didn’t amount to much .

From the social media posts on apps like Tik Tok, which I had never even heard of until Singh put up the video of him pointing to various policies he ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ that supposedly went viral, to a rally held in Brampton with a who’s who of artists, rappers and celebrities, if all you got was 24 seats that means something did not resonate.

And that really hurts, because as a professional wrestling enthusiast I actually thought having a former WWE champion show up in Brampton was pretty cool.

But once we dig down deep beyond the surface, what is Jagmeet Singh’s NDP really about other than wanting to do things the Liberals did or say they will do…just a bit faster? 

National dental care may sound nice, but when you think about it does every person need it? Most people get dental coverage through their place of employment. A program geared for low income Canadians, such as seniors and those on disability makes more sense and is more targeted to those who actually need coverage. The only other people that it would make sense for are those in the so-called ‘gig’ economy, but even in that sector employers have managed to come up with health plans for their employees.

As for national pharmacare, the same line of thinking applies: is it worth implementing a drug plan for every single Canadian when most people get coverage through their employer? Is it not better to also gear such a program towards low-income Canadians?

Again, it seems on both the dental and pharmacare files, which the Liberals announced they were in the process of working on, the NDP seem to say they want all these lovely programs implemented IMMEDIATELY.

Climate change isn’t that much better, but all three major parties (NDP, Liberal and Conservatives) have targets that don’t really meet the goals of the Paris accord. Only the Greens seem to have a plan that meets those targets, if you’re willing to bite the bullet and take an economic hit to get to carbon neutrality by 2050. It may sound nuts, but the Greens are at least firm on a climate change proposal. 

Is anyone really sure what the NDP climate change policy is that makes it stand out from the others? 

This is what bothers me about the NDP to this day since I started observing politics over a decade ago. They’ve gone from a party of self centred sanctimoniousness (as if they are the only political party that is completely flawless) to one that seems to celebrate meaninglessness, representing social immaturity on the political stage. 

How else do you explain the jubilation they expressed in losing half their caucus on election night? Sure, the Liberals may need them in a balance of power situation, but the same can be said of the Bloc. What’s to stop the Liberal minority government from seeking support from the sovereigntists most of the time? If you think the opposite, you must be very politically naive. 

I’ll sum it up with a comment recently sent my way on Singh’s current situation: dancing around like a (bleeping) idiot while your party loses 20 seats may be good for the likes and clicks, but if those clicks don’t translate into people getting off their butts to vote for you, all the social in the world means diddly squat. 

Perhaps the NDP should rethink their long term prospects and think about if they want a party that looks good, or a party that is credible to be an actual government down the road.

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