Singh gets his chance for a seat as PM calls three Feb. 25 by­elec­tions

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - NATIONAL NEWS -

oT­Tawa — The rel­e­vance of the ndP in an elec­tion year will be put to the test next month in fed­eral by­elec­tions called wed­nes­day by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau set Feb. 25 as the date for by­elec­tions in the on­tario rid­ing of york-sim­coe, Mon­treal’s outremont and British Columbia’s Burn­aby south — where ndP leader Jag­meet singh is hop­ing to win a seat in the house of Com­mons.

The lat­ter two will be im­por­tant tests for new democrats, who’ve been strug­gling to find their foot­ing since their party was rel­e­gated to a dis­tant third in the 2015 gen­eral elec­tion, re­vers­ing the ndP’s his­toric 2011 break­through. The ndP has trailed the lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives badly in both fundrais­ing and opin­ion polls ever since — a sit­u­a­tion that ben­e­fits the rul­ing party and wor­ries the Tories, who want a strong ndP to siphon off lib­eral votes.

For singh, vic­tory in Burn­aby south is cru­cial, giv­ing him an op­por­tu­nity to raise his pro­file and shake off in­ter­nal crit­i­cism about his lead­er­ship. de­feat could prompt new democrats to dump singh and re­place him ahead of the oct. 21 gen­eral elec­tion.

“The time for timid is over,” he said in a news con­fer­ence out­side a Burn­aby skyTrain sta­tion. he said he’s ready to “fight ot­tawa” and push for poli­cies that will make life eas­ier and more af­ford­able.

“I’m de­ter­mined to make peo­ple the pri­or­ity,” he said.

The rid­ing is no cake­walk for singh, a for­mer on­tario MPP whose po­lit­i­cal home had been Bramp­ton, north­west of Toronto. Kennedy ste­wart, now Van­cou­ver mayor, won Burn­aby south for the ndP in 2015 with just over 500 votes more than the lib­eral con­tender. But singh will ben­e­fit some­what from the Green party’s de­ci­sion not to field a can­di­date in the by­elec­tion, ex­tend­ing so-called “leader’s cour­tesy” to a leader seek­ing to en­ter Par­lia­ment.

The lib­er­als, af­ter much in­ter­nal de­bate about whether to stand down, are run­ning day­care op­er­a­tor Karen wang, while the Con­ser­va­tives are field­ing cor­po­rate lawyer Jay shin. For­mer talk-show host laura-lynn Tyler Thomp­son, who has cham­pi­oned op­po­si­tion to B.C.’s in­clu­sive ap­proach to deal­ing with gen­der iden­tity and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion in schools, is run­ning for the Peo­ple’s Party of Canada.

singh said he’s con­fi­dent of his prospects but also said he’ll lead the ndP into the next gen­eral elec­tion whether he wins or loses the by­elec­tion.

The race in outremont, left va­cant when for­mer ndP leader Tom Mul­cair re­signed, will also be seen as a test of whether the ndP can hang on what’s left of the or­ange wave that swept Que­bec in 2011.

outremont had been a lib­eral strong­hold un­til Mul­cair scored an up­set in a 2007 by­elec­tion, es­tab­lish­ing an ndP beach­head in Que­bec for the party’s break­through there four years later. Trudeau’s lib­er­als, who are run­ning well ahead in the polls in Que­bec, are gun­ning to take the seat back.

The Con­ser­va­tives are ex­pected to eas­ily keep york-sim­coe, left va­cant by the res­ig­na­tion of long­time Tory MP Peter Van loan. It re­mains to be seen what im­pact the fledg­ling Peo­ple’s Party of Canada might have. For­mer Tory min­is­ter Maxime Bernier split from the Con­ser­va­tives and cre­ated the new party last sum­mer. dur­ing the Tories’ 2017 lead­er­ship con­test, Bernier won more sup­port in both outremont and york- sim­coe than an­drew scheer, who wound up edg­ing out Bernier on the fi­nal bal­lot.

Bernier hasn’t named by­elec­tion can­di­dates in ei­ther of those rid­ings but is ex­pected to do so by the end of the week. his party hasn’t had time to hold nom­i­na­tion con­tests so in­stead Bernier asked lead­ers in each rid­ing to put for­ward names and then po­ten­tial can­di­dates were in­ter­viewed be­fore a de­ci­sion was made.

Bernier has de­fended Tyler Thomp­son as his first can­di­date, af­ter crit­ics ques­tioned how her op­po­si­tion to the “trans agenda” in schools squares with Bernier’s lib­er­tar­ian phi­los­o­phy.

“non­sense,” he said Tues­day on Twit­ter. “There is room for every­one who sup­ports our plat­form and the val­ues of free­dom, re­spon­si­bil­ity, fair­ness and re­spect. and this in­cludes laura-lynn.”

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

NDP Leader Jag­meet Singh will have a chance to join the House of Com­mons as Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau has called three Fe­bru­ary by­elec­tions.

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