Trudeau and the Liberals face serious challenge thanks to Jagmeet Singh




Jagmeet Singh
Photo by Vinnie Combow

TWO-THIRDS of those who backed the Liberals in 2015 say they’d be prepared to give the NDP a look in the next federal election, according to the latest public opinion survey from the Angus Reid Institute.

That surely has Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals worried.

Angus Reid points out: “It is important to remember that the majority mandate delivered to Justin Trudeau on October 19, 2015, was, in part, the result of soft NDP voters stampeding away from their own party towards Justin Trudeau in one of the longest, and most volatile campaigns in recent memory.”

It then poses the question: “Can Jagmeet Singh bring them back with promises of policy more left leaning than his more centrist predecessor?”

It also notes: “With relatively small core bases across each party, both [Conservative Party Leader] Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh have the potential to shape national ballots in 2019, provided each can tap into any potential disappointment held by those who supported the Prime Minister in 2015, while securing their own core base.”

Angus Reid, analyzing its data from its latest survey, notes: “While taking on Trudeau may appear difficult, given his high personal approval, more Canadians are saying it’s “time for a change” in government now than at any point since the election. The data also displays willingness for past Liberal supporters (many of them, NDP leaners to begin with) to give Jagmeet Singh a good hard look.

Justin Trudeau
Photo by Sukhwant Singh

“Only one-in-three Trudeau voters say they aren’t willing to consider the NDP led by Singh in the coming election. One-quarter (23%) say they will certainly consider the party, while four-in-ten (42%) consider themselves a “maybe” at this point.”

Angus Reid also notes: “The success of the NDP in 2019 will likely hinge on the same three provinces it hinged upon in 2015 – BC, Ontario and Quebec.

“Indeed, of the 44 parliamentary seats the party gained in that election, just six came from outside of those three provinces. Asked whether they would consider supporting the NDP, only Alberta tops Quebec in the proportion of residents who say they are ruling that out. Six-in-ten in Alberta (60%) and half of Quebecers (50%) say they will not consider the party going forward under Singh.

“Any potential losses in Quebec would need to be made up for elsewhere. A positive sign for the party is that residents in both BC and Ontario continue to voice an openness to the NDP – just one-in-three within each say they definitely won’t consider voting for the party in the future.”


THE Angus Reid survey found that  seven-in-10 Canadians are saying they themselves would consider voting for a national party leader who wears a turban and carries a kirpan, while the same number are hailing his historic win as good for the country.

But when asked about their own friends and family, half of Canadians say “some” or “most” could not vote for a politician who fits Singh’s demographic profile.

Of course, that prejudice is bound to lessen as they get more familiar with Singh.

Singh has two years to let Canadians know what he is all about. As the federal NDP leader, he will be in the spotlight all the time and as Canadians watch him in action, they will be more inclined to lessen their prejudices.

As expected, the greatest reservations are found in Quebec, a province where opposition to visible, non-Christian religious garb and clothing is well-documented, and where support for the proposed Bill 62 – legislation that would prohibit the administering and receiving of public services for those who cover their face – cuts across political divides. In that province, nearly half say voting for a politician who looks – and prays – as Singh does, is a non-starter.

However the survey found that notwithstanding Singh’s leadership, two-in-five (43%) across the country say the NDP has a “real vision” for the future; and about the same number (40%) say the party can be trusted to “competently manage” government

Also, Canadians appear quite comfortable with the NDP filling a role as the party of national conscience. Two-thirds (65%) agree that it should “remain committed to its principles, even if that means not getting elected”. This agreement cuts across political lines.

The survey found that just one-in-10 Canadians (9%) claim to be “very” or “fairly” familiar with him and that seven-in-10 (69%) say they’ve either never heard of him, or have heard his name, but know nothing else about him.

For sure, some racist and / or ignorant journalists will keep on attacking him on some pretext or the other – and he will, of course, like the any other leader make some mistakes and will have to face the consequences.

But he is intelligent and sophisticated and is bound to shake up the current Canadian political scene.