NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh leaves an advance poll after casting his ballot for the federal byelection in Burnaby South, in Burnaby, B.C., on February 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Liberal turmoil a ‘gift’ to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in B.C. byelection: expert

SNC-Lavalin allegations, a poor choice in candidates have all beset the Liberals

The stakes are high for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a Metro Vancouver byelection race, but an expert says recent Liberal turmoil has been a “gift” to his campaign.

The 40-year-old former Ontario legislator has lacked a voice in Parliament since becoming party leader in the fall of 2017. Now he finally has his chance in Burnaby South as voters in the riding cast their ballots on Monday after a six-week race.

The Liberals got off to a rocky start when their first candidate, Karen Wang, resigned after pointing out Singh’s ethnicity online. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been besieged by allegations his office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Singh said he’s not taking anything for granted but he’s confident his hard work to connect with voters will pay off.

“I think people are very disappointed with what’s going on with the Liberal government,” he said.

“Canadians expect our government works in our interest. It looks more and more like this government and Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal party are working in the interest of a massive multinational corporation.”

Trudeau has denied he or his office directed Wilson-Raybould on the matter. Michael Wernick, clerk of the Privy Council, recently said Trudeau repeatedly assured Wilson-Raybould a decision on the prosecution was hers alone to make.

Richard T. Lee, the Liberal candidate who replaced Wang in Burnaby South, said few people are raising the issue on the doorstep.

“I understand some people are concerned about that, but the office of the prime minister and the prime minister himself have made a statement already,” he said.

Byelections typically have low turnouts, but there is evidence the results of them are driven by the popularity of the government and its leader, said Richard Johnston, a University of British Columbia political science professor.

“(Singh) may have been handed the gift of some voters as a result of all this,” he said. “Although it’s just one thing amongst many, boy, he could use a win right now.”

Singh has faced criticism for poor fundraising and low poll numbers. Burnaby South occupies historically strong NDP territory, so if Singh can’t win in the riding, it adds to the interpretation that he hasn’t secured the support of party loyalists, said Johnston.

The NDP beat the Liberals by just over 500 votes in the riding in 2015, but Johnston said he never expected the Liberals to do as well this time in Burnaby South.

“That was kind of a high point and their support might drop even further,” he said.

Lee said local issues, especially affordable housing, are more important to Burnaby South voters than the situation in Ottawa.

He has touted the Liberal government’s national housing strategy, which promises $40 billion over 10 years, while Conservative candidate Jay Shin has called for lower taxes and job-creation measures to help residents earn and save more money.

Singh has unveiled a plan to build 500,000 affordable homes across Canada. He challenged Trudeau to eliminate the GST for developers building affordable homes, subsidize low-income renters and double the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit.

Byelections will also take place in York-Simcoe in Ontario and Outremont in Montreal on Monday. The results might provide insight into whether Quebec MP Maxime Bernier’s new right-wing People’s Party of Canada can snatch votes from the Conservatives.

READ MORE: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin

READ MORE: Jagmeet Singh stakes NDP leadership on Burnaby South byelection

READ MORE: B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

A recent debate in Burnaby South became heated when People’s Party candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson discussed immigration.

An online video of the debate shows Singh urging audience members to recognize they are all immigrants, unless they are Indigenous.

When Tyler Thompson raises the murder of Burnaby teen Marrisa Shen — in which a Syrian national has been charged — to argue for more careful vetting of refugees, an audience member yells: “That is racist! Shame on you!”

“It’s not racist to have safety,” replies Tyler Thompson.

Shin, the Conservative candidate, recently distributed flyers taking aim at Tyler Thompson, accusing her of supporting supervised injection sites and the legalization of marijuana, which she described as a “smear campaign” based on “lies.”

However, Shin said he isn’t worried about Tyler Thompson and doesn’t think her message is resonating.

“When I speak with voters at the doors, I don’t get a sense of that at all,” he said.

Tyler Thompson, a former Christian TV show host who opposes abortion and has protested teaching resources that educate kids about gay and transgender identities, said she believes the Conservatives are threatened by the People’s Party.

“My message is resonating with Canadians because they like my strong stance for family.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Councillor Gambell raises motion to fit busses with seat belts

The motion was passed on Tuesday’s council meeting

FormaShape snuffs small electrical fire

Fire department responds to fire in Lake Country for precautionary measures

Melcor Developments supports YMCA Strong Kids with generous $9,000 donation

Local business raises funds to enrich community through YMCA services

Boil water notice extended into Kelowna’s northern boundary

City of Kelowna extends boil water notice to over 100 residences in northern boundary of Kelowna

Kelowna Memorial Cup committee visits 2019 tournament in Halifax

The committee wants to get a first-hand look at how the tournament is organzied

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Okanagan housing builds hope for 52 homeless individuals

The 52 unit supported housing apartment officially opens in Vernon

Gardens plant hope for Okanagan residents who were once homeless

Turning Points, in collaberation with Briteland, bring square foot gardening to Blair Apartments

Bear spray culprit released from Penticton RCMP custody

The individual who sprayed the bear spray at Compass House on May 22 has been released

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

RCMP set to patrol Okanagan lakes

Vernon-North Okanagan members will be on area waters helping keep boaters safe

Summerland students to raise voices in public speech competition

Public speaking component is included in high school English program

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Most Read