Jagmeet Singh emerges as ‘kingmaker’

Indian-origin Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) won 24 seats in the general election, is set to emerge as the “kingmaker” while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party lost majority.

The Liberal Party won 157 seats in the 338-member lower House, while the main opposition Conservatives secured 121 seats. Mr. Trudeau will now require at least 13 legislators from his left-leaning rival parties to reach the ‘magic number’ of 170 to form a Liberal Party-led minority government.

Jagmeet Singh emerges as ‘kingmaker’

“The New Democratic Party is poised to play kingmaker in a minority Parliament after Jagmeet Singh spearheaded a turnaround on the federal campaign trail that may have saved his leadership and pulled his party from the brink of irrelevance,” the Toronto Star newspaper reported.

With 24 seats in its kitty, the NDP has lost nearly 50% of the seats it had won in 2015. Despite the drop in seats, Mr. Singh, in a celebratory speech on Tuesday, said his party will now be “working hard” to deliver on the “priorities that Canadians have”.

“When we get back to Ottawa, every single day we are in Parliament, New Democrats are going to be working to make sure Canadians’ lives are better,” he was quoted as saying by Mr. Singh said his party’s elected officials will now head to Ottawa to tackle a number of issues, including taking “real and urgent action” on climate change, making life more affordable for Canadians and making sure the “super wealthy pay their fair share”.

The first non-white leader of a federal political party in Canada, the 40-year-old Mr. Singh congratulated Mr. Trudeau, 47, on his win.

In the Liberal government elected in 2015, Indian-Canadians had notched up a record number of 19 seats. Of those 19, as many as 18 were of Punjabi origin. Mr. Trudeau’s outgoing Cabinet has four Sikhs — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan; Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains and Tourism Minister Bardish Chagger.

NDP’s demands

“I think a Liberal government supported by the NDP is likely going to lean farther left,” said John Manley, a former Liberal Finance Minister who now works in the private sector. “It raises a series of issues about what are the demands that an NDP party would make. What’s the price of governing going to be? I think businesses are going to be reluctant to make any moves until they get some satisfaction around that.”

Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than two and a half years.

One senior Liberal noted that many legislators need to serve another two years to meet the six-year requirement for a Parliamentary pension. “That gives us a pretty free hand for that period,” said the Liberal, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.

The New Democrats struck deals to help keep Liberal minority governments in power from 1972-1974 and in 2005.

Mr. Trudeau visited Montreal’s subway, posing for selfies with commuters early on Tuesday, an echo of 2015 when he did the same thing.

This win was different. But Mr. Trudeau barely mentioned the loss of his majority when he spoke to supporters, saying he had “a clear mandate” for a progressive agenda and more action to combat global warming.


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