Can Singh sing a new song in Burnaby?

It is now confirmed that new democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh will try for a seat in the House of Commons this fall. The facts are that the guy has not drawn a salary for over a year now. He has gotten married and he might need a couple new bespoke suits. He could have possibly run in Montreal in Tom Mulcair’s old seat of Outremont or a formerly conservative-held seat in Grenville-Dundas-Thousand Islands in Ontario, but he has decided the safest seat is in South-Burnaby in British Columbia.

But while that might be the safest seat for an NDP, Singh had to finally come out against the Trans Mountain pipeline. It was the end of sitting on the fence between premier John Horgan’s BC NDP and premier Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP.

South-Burnaby voters will likely have a clear choice. No liberal has been selected yet but whoever runs for the government party will be standing on Justin Trudeau’s shoulders. The greens and conservatives might as well stand back and let the liberals and NDP have at it! This will be a referendum on the newly government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline. The $7 to $11 billion enhancement project is designed to bring more of the Alberta tar sands products to Burnaby for loading on ocean tankers.

The only reason Kennedy Stewart is not representing the seat is that he is in the running for mayor of Vancouver. In Vancouver, they do not have party politics in the traditional Canadian manner. The current election pits the progressives against the combined conservatives and right-wing liberals.

My bet is on Stewart for mayor of that wonderful city.

South-Burnaby is considered to be one of the most ethnically diverse electoral districts in Canada, competing with many ridings in Toronto for that distinction. Prime minister Trudeau remains very strong in ethnically diverse areas and that alone could make this by-election a toss-up.

The one thing that Singh might not be prepared for in this situation is to lose. And he could. The ethnic make-up of the electoral district is only listed as 16 per cent south Asian and Sikhs are only a part of that group. It will be an interesting test of Singh’s appeal to other ethnic groups. Singh will also be considered an eastern carpetbagger who will not have any long-term interest in the people there.

Jagmeet Singh might be biting off too much.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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