Jagmeet Singh to run for Burnaby South seat in Parliament
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018 12:50PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 8, 2018 7:16PM PDT
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has announced he intends to run for the Burnaby South seat in the House of Commons in an upcoming byelection.
Singh became party leader in the fall of 2017, but is not a Member of Parliament.
"It's important to acknowledge when you've got a New Democratic MP, you've got someone in your corner, who understands what you're going through, who's fighting for you," he told supporters and journalists outside a film production studio in the riding Wednesday.
Singh's speech centered around a promise to pressure Ottawa into timelier action on issues including housing and Pharmacare.
"We're the only country in the world that has universal health care that doesn't have universal Pharmacare," Singh said, criticizing the Trudeau government for proposing "yet another study" on the topic.
"We've already seen study after study has clearly shown that people would benefit from universal Pharmacare plan," he said. "What are the Liberals telling us? They're telling us to wait. I'm here to say the people of Burnaby can't wait. Canadians can't wait."
Singh had similar criticism of the federal government's $40-billion affordable housing strategy.
"We're in a housing crisis and it's a national crisis. People are struggling to find a place to call home," he said. "The Liberals are telling us to just wait when it comes to the housing crisis."
Singh's bid comes nearly three months after New Democrat Kennedy Stewart announced he would give up the seat in order to run for mayor of Vancouver.
Back in 2015, Stewart won the riding by about 550 votes over Liberal candidate Adam Pankratz.
"I think the NDP and Mr. Singh are clearly taking Burnaby South and Burnaby South residents and votes for granted," Pankratz told CTV Wednesday.
"I think, more than anything, Burnaby residents want someone who has a connection to the community and with Mr. Singh parachuting in, he has absolutely none and I think Burnaby voters are not going to respond well to that."
But political science professor Michael Prince, whom the BC NDP appointed the chair of Community Living BC, says there's a reason Singh chose Burnaby.
"Since the last general election, we've had the Kinder Morgan pipeline decision," he said. "There's a large degree of dissent and opposition to the pipeline in their own backyard, so I think Mr. Singh can capitalize on that."
Singh did speak out against Ottawa's $4.5-billion takeover of the Trans Mountain pipeline Wednesday, but offered no concrete examples of what action he would take against the project as an MP.
"I'm running because we don't need our government to invest public dollars, billions of public dollars in a 65-year-old, leaky pipeline," he said. "We need our government to invest in clean energies for today and tomorrow."
A date has not yet been set for the Burnaby South byelection. And while Ottawa could decide to delay the byelection until the October 2019 general election, Singh said "people deserve to have representation" and that it's up to the Liberals to do what's necessary to ensure those in the riding to have and MP working on their behalf.
Singh indicated that he and his wife will move to Burnaby if elected and that he will continue to lead the NDP without a seat if he is unsuccessful.
Before running for the federal NDP leadership, Singh represented the Toronto-area riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton in the Ontario Legislature from 2011 to 2017.
He has also served as deputy leader of the Ontario NDP.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson and The Canadian Press