NDP’s Singh has opening to turn election into three-way race
"Singh needs to prevent Trudeau and Scheer from polarizing a culture war. Singh has developed a double-skewering narrative, calling Liberal indifference about economic anxiety a fuel for Conservative exclusion. He can’t let up on it."
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh sees the opening. His challenge, before summer, is to climb through it and make it a three-way race.
The Trudeau Liberals dragged out the Burnaby South byelection, pinning the seatless NDP leader on the west coast as long as possible — at 164 days from seat vacancy to byelection vote, the longest a Prime Minister has ever blocked an opposition leader. Singh’s support eroded, dropping the NDP to about 13 per cent.
But Singh made opportunity from necessity, building Vancouver-area networks. Coming out of the byelection, his NDP has continuing BC support. Premier John Horgan’s popular NDP government helps.
With the byelection done, Singh quickly pivoted to Quebec. He appointed MP Alexandre Boulerice as his new deputy, boosted new Montreal candidate Nima Machouf (who holds a strong Quebec Solidaire connection), and met Premier François Legault.
And since winning, three recent polls — IPSOS, Angus Reid and Nanos — show a significant rebound. A Quebec recovery may be underway — while IPSOS still puts NDP’s Quebec support at 12 per cent, both Angus Reid and Nanos put it at 18. Angus Reid shows Singh’s NDP leading in the city of Vancouver. And nationally, NDP support is pegged at 21, 17 and 20 per cent, respectively.
Written off only weeks ago, Singh’s NDP is back in business. But no cork-popping: before summer Singh needs to hit the next level — 25 per cent — to say it’s a three-way race.
He has opportunities. The SNC-Lavalin scandal has set the Liberal house afire — and the burnline couldn’t be better for him. The scandal shows Trudeau Liberals doing just about anything to aid powerful corporate friends. And it exposes the pretense of Liberal identity politics — a clever play to use appropriated identities as cloaks over same-old Liberal politics.
Quebec political realignment may help. The Parti Quebecois, which took the Quebec left in a cultural-nationalist direction, is being edged out by Quebec Solidaire, which has helpful NDP policy overlaps. The QS, in a policy switch last weekend, will oppose the CAQ bill on religious symbols, arguing secularism is for institutions, not individuals. Now, on this sensitive issue, the federal NDP position is backed by a party inside the Quebec National Assembly — no longer a foreign intervention from outside Quebec’s cultural debates.