Sunday , October 24 2021

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh campaigns in Montreal before the difficult selection fight


NDP leader Jagmeet Singh ventured into his predecessor's former territory on Saturday while campaigning in Outremont in Montreal ahead of several federal elections scheduled for early next year.

Singh shook hands and spoke in French while visiting local businesses alongside NDP candidate Julia Sanchez.

The race was vacated earlier this year by former NDP leader Tom Mulcair, whose 2007 election victory represented a breakthrough for the NDP in Quebec.

Mulcair went on to win riding three more times before leaving politics to take up a teaching job.

Despite the past success of the NDP in Outremont, the party could be facing a challenge when the selection is called.

His results in recent elections were disappointing and Sanchez never ran for an earlier election.

The NDP ended a distant third in the Chicoutimi-Le Fjord election that Conservatives won in June, receiving only 8.7% of votes in an NDP championship defeated in 2011.

Singh talks to a man and a woman at a coffee shop during his Outremont tour on Saturday. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press)

In October of last year, the NDP finished fourth in an election in Lac-Saint-Jean, which was won by the Liberals.

But despite these losses, the NDP leader expressed confidence on Saturday.

"You can not compare the results of the selection to the overall election results," Singh said. "I do not think it's a fair comparison."

Singh is relying on its environmental platform, including promises of jobs and investments in green energy, to win over Québécois.

"Between the heat wave in Quebec that has seen significant lives lost, floods and extreme climates across Canada, more and more people are really worried about what we are doing to combat climate change," he said.

No prediction about the election

Singh did not offer a forecast on the election of Outremont, but acknowledged that riding had symbolic importance as the birthplace of the so-called orange wave that boosted the party to its best performance in the province in 2011.

But while he made several trips there, not everyone in Outremont seemed to recognize the leader of the NDP when he made stops at a patisserie and coffee shop on Saturday.

While he attracted curiosity, several people asked who he was and wondered if he was Canada's Defense Minister.

However, Singh appeared well received when he introduced himself to the restaurant's customers, speaking in French while asking about his political priorities.

Sanchez savored the challenge

Next to him was Sanchez, a political newcomer who spent the last seven years in Ottawa as CEO of the Canadian Council of International Co-operation.

She said she enjoyed the challenge of returning to Montreal and taking on a prominent mission in her first political battle.

Singh and NDP candidate for Outremont tour Julia Sanchez cross a street during a Montreal neighborhood tour. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press)

"I've been knocking on doors since August, and people are really proud of the work the NDP, Thomas Mulcair and the team have done … and I think they want continuity," she said.

Sanchez will face Liberal candidate Rachel Bendayan, a lawyer who finished second in Mulcair's last election, while conservatives announced the candidacy of Jasmine Louras.

Singh also seemed confident of winning his own battle for a seat in British Columbia at Burnaby South as soon as the next round of elections is called.

He said he has moved into riding and is seeing "a lot of support" from people on the ground while he campaigns on issues like the environment and the need for affordable housing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce the election date for the kingdoms of Burnaby South, Outremont and York-Simcoe, Ontario, at the beginning of the new year.

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