Controversial Sikh-Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh announced his bid for leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP) last night in Brampton, Ontario.
Singh, currently the deputy leader of the provincial NDP, will be the first non-white and first person of Indian-origin to lead a major federal party in Canada if he succeeds. He has received endorsements from elected provincial politicians but no sitting MP has backed him.
The NDP, one of the three major national parties in the country, had emerged as the main Opposition in the House of Commons after the 2011 election.
Singh, a member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament representing Bramalea-Gore-Malton, made the announcement at an event hosted at a local restaurant, Bombay Palace.
“I’m proud to announce that I am running to be the leader of the new Dem Party of Canada,” he said, as shouts of “Bole so nihal, Sat Sri Akal” resonated through the venue.
“People are hungry for new leadership in this country, they are hungry for new leadership in our party,” said Singh, a lawyer by training, at the event which was livestreamed on Facebook.
Singh, who was born in Scarborough in Ontario, is notorious in India for his motion last year to classify the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as genocide, which was unsuccessful. His extremist views led to him being denied a visa to visit India in 2013, one of the rare cases in which an elected official in the Western world has faced this issue.
Singh has garnered support among the provincial leadership, with elected representatives from Canadian provinces present at the event. He also attacked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying, “We’ve had enough of empty promises and we’re ready to get the job done.”