Singh leaning toward NDP leadership bid
Party insiders say provincial deputy leader poised to enter federal race to replace Mulcair
Jagmeet Singh has a team quietly organizing his potential federal NDP leadership bid, as the provincial MPP continues to consider his political future. More than a half dozen New Democrat insiders, both in Toronto and in Ottawa, have told the Star that Singh is leaning heavily toward entering the race to replace Thomas Mulcair.
Federal MPs Charlie Angus and Guy Caron are also expected to announce their leadership intentions next week.
Angus is holding a “party” at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern Sunday afternoon, while Caron has said he’d announce his decision on the leadership by Tuesday.
At Queen’s Park, Singh was characteristically coy when asked about his potential jump to the federal party.
“At this point in time I’m not making a decision — I haven’t decided anything, but I’m really honoured with my position and the great work we’re doing here in Ontario,” the Bramalea-Gore-Malton MPP and deputy NDP leader said in an interview.
Singh — sporting one of the tailormade suits that helped get him a splashy feature in GQ magazine and wearing a pink turban for the annual anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day — said he is aware of the buzz swirling around his potential federal bid.
But, he emphasized, “there’s no timeline in my head” for making a decision to launch a federal leadership campaign.
“There’s no denying that the attention is something that is really humbling . . . I’m really honoured by it.”
Some party operatives, however, are hoping an anticipated leadership push from Singh can freshen up a campaign that will likely feature many familiar faces from the federal NDP.
The only declared candidate, British Columbia MP Peter Julian, has held a seat in the House of Commons since 2004. Manitoba MP Niki Ash- ton, who ran for the leadership in 2012, is also said to be preparing a campaign, said NDP Youth co-chair Ali Chatur.
“Within the party, there’s a strong desire for something different than what we’ve seen before,” Chatur said.
A candidate like Singh — relatively young, flashy and an outsider to the Ottawa bubble — could help bring in young and urban-situated voters that left the NDP fold in the 2015 election, Chatur added.
“It’s time for us to bring those people back,” he said. “I think he would be an exceptional candidate if he decided to run.”
NDP president Marit Stiles told the Star in a recent interview that she’s confident a slate of candidates will be in the race to compete in the first official debate on March 12.
“The same people you know about are probably the same people I know about,” she said.
When asked about Singh, she added: “I think there will be some interesting candidates.”
Julian this month became the first contender in the race to replace Mulcair, who lost his bid to remain NDP leader at the party’s Edmonton convention last year.
With Mulcair still at the helm until a new leader is chosen, the party has lacked any real spark as his potential replacements bided their time in the marathon race.
Rick Smith, a former chief of staff to Jack Layton and executive director of the Broadbent Institute, said it will be up to the campaigns to find that spark.
“More than anything, New Democrats are going to be looking for a new leader to inject some new energy into the federal party,” Smith said.
“I think it remains to be seen who rises to the top.”
Candidates have until June 3 to enter the leadership race.