India Today – Jagmeet Singh, Trudeau’s biggest political rival, could mean bad news for India

Here’s why Sikh politician Jagmeet Singh’s victory in Canada, and his rise as the country’s prime minister, could be problematic for the Indian government

New Delhi, 3 October 2017. Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh politician from Canada has been elected as the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada. The 38-year-old politician went viral after he was heckled by a racist woman during an event titled ‘Jagmeet and Greet’ when he was standing as a candidate a month ago.

Jagmeet Singh, a provincial lawmaker, is the first non-white person ever to head a major party in the Canada.

Singh was elected on the first ballot to lead the party into the 2019 election against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Jagmeet Singh triumphed competing against three candidates with 53.6 per cent votes.

He thanked his supporters on Twitter saying, “Thank you, New Democrats. The run for Prime Minister begins now,” after the election.

Jagmeet Singh officially announced the launch of his campaign to be the next prime minister of Canada.

Singh has also been observed to be a strong political rival of Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. Singh plans to stand against Trudeau in the 2019 elections. It will be a challenge for him to turn things around for his party as they lost 59 seats in the 2015 elections.

Jagmeet Singh focuses on climate change, reconciliation, electoral reform and to remove children from no-fly list of Canada. He goes by the motto of ‘Love and Courage’ and even repeated it in front of the racist woman who heckled him while giving a speech as an NDP candidate.

The New Democratic Party is currently at the third place in Canada’s Parliament with 44 of 338 seats. The party has never held power.

During his leadership campaign, he raised money for the welfare of the people and was way too much as compared to his competitors.

Why Jagmeet Singh could mean bad news for the Indian government

Jagmeet Singh, who will be competing against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in two years, was denied the Indian visa by the UPA government in 2013.

Jagmeet Singh, a member of the provincial parliament (MPP) in Ontario was barred from travelling to India. According to a report by HT, he was the first ever sitting member of Western Legislature who was not allowed to travel India.

Singh was denied visa because he was considered ‘persona non grata’ by the Indian government.

Jagmeet Singh has been actively involved in criticising Indian government and has talked about the issues related to the 1984 Sikh riots. In 2016, he called the 1984 riots, “genocide”.

In an official statement on the occasion of Operation Blue Star’s anniversary, he said, “The government of India initiated a genocidal campaign against the Sikh minority”.

“The Indian military killed thousands of innocent people in just one day. This genocide continued for the next twenty years. Across Punjab, Sikh youth disappeared, torture was rampant, and Sikhs endured relentless state-sanctioned terrorism.”

He even called it an “attempt to extinguish the Sikh community”.

Singh is said to have an influence on people due to his personality and sense of style too.

Jagmeet vs. Indian government

Jagmeet Singh accused the Indian government of sabotaging his NDP campaign. He also accused Indian government of trying to use their influence to prevent members of the community from contributing to his campaign or backing him.

Before entering politics, Singh was working as defence lawyer in the Greater Toronto area. Despite of the odds, Singh’s victory proves that even though Sikhs have a percentage of 1.4 in Canada when it comes to population, the minority communities have owned their own place in the country.


The Guardian – Canada’s Jagmeet Singh becomes first non-white politician to lead major party

Justin Trudeau congratulates 38-year-old Sikh lawyer on election to lead New Democratic party into 2019 federal election

Toronto-Ontario-Canada, 2 October 2017. Jagmeet Singh, a 38-year-old lawyer and practising Sikh, was elected on Sunday to lead Canada’s left-leaning New Democrats, becoming the first non-white politician to head a major political party there.

The Ontario provincial lawmaker, whose penchant for colorful turbans and tailor-made three-piece suits made him a social media star, was elected on the first ballot to lead the New Democratic party (NDP) into the 2019 federal election against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

“Thank you, New Democrats. The run for prime minister begins now,” Singh tweeted.

Singh secured 54% of the vote, defeating three rivals to become the new head of the NDP, succeeding Thomas Mulcair. The results of the vote, conducted online and by mail, were announced at a party meeting in Toronto.

Trudeau congratulated his new political rival on Twitter on Sunday, saying: “I look forward to speaking soon and working together for Canadians.”

The Toronto-area politician, who has led in fundraising since joining the race in May, had been touted by supporters as someone who could bring new life to the party, which has struggled since the death of charismatic former leader Jack Layton in 2011.

Singh’s profile was boosted early last month after a video went viral showing him calmly responding with words of love to a heckler who interrupted a campaign event to accuse him of wanting to impose Shariah law in Canada.

Christopher Cochrane, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said: “His skill, in being able to defuse the situation, it understandably appealed to a lot of people who ended up supporting him.”

Cochrane added that Singh’s ability to connect both with young people and those in ethnic minorities would make him a “force to reckon with” when competing against Trudeau in 2019.

The NDP is the third largest party in the federal parliament, with 44 of 338 seats. The party lags well behind the centrist Liberals and right-leaning Conservatives in political fundraising this year, according to Elections Canada data.

Singh will now focus on rallying supporters and targeting center-left voters who helped propel Trudeau’s Liberals to a decisive victory in 2015.

There are hurdles ahead. Singh does not have a seat in the federal parliament and will have to win one in a special election. He also needs to persuade voters that his party can form a government, although it has never held power federally.

There are also questions over whether he will have success in Quebec, Canada’s mainly French-speaking province, where overt signs of faith are frowned upon. – How Canadian Sikh politician Jagmeet Singh has successfully battled racism with love

Jagmeet Singh is considered the frontrunner for the New Democratic Party leadership. If this happens, it would bring an unprecedented diversity to the role.

Within the space of a few moments, Jagmeet Singh became one of Canada’s most admired politicians. His cool-under-pressure reaction to being confronted by an angry heckler is just one of the reasons Singh is considered to be the favourite contender for leadership of the federal New Democratic Party.

A video of the September 6 incident at Singh’s campaign event in Brampton, Ontario, went viral and has been viewed millions of times in Canada and around the world.

Moments into the event, an angry white woman interrupted Singh and shouted Islamophobic and vitriolic statements at him, and physically gesticulated, demonstrating her feeling of entitlement, to space, voice and position, in relation to others at the event.

Singh seemed undeterred by the outburst. His response to her rant was to rally his audience to help him relay his campaign message. He asked his guests to chant: “Love and courage”.

What is the nature of Singh’s call for love?

His political slogan is based on a message of universal love and courage. Singh’s message, and chant that evening, is uniquely situated among the slogans of the three other candidates: Charlie Angus “Got your back”, Niki Ashton “Building a movement, together”, and Guy Caron, “Let’s Build a Progressive and Sustainable Economy”.

The dramatic events at the September 6 meeting demonstrates something about Singh, as a person and as a candidate. It also points to new undercurrents of religion and spirituality and its role, not only in Canadian politics, but also in the leadership race for the New Democratic Party.

Singh’s campaign and potential leadership arrives in a climate of increasing hatred, fear and division. His call for universal love is coherent with Sikhism, which challenges the division between daily life and a devotional love that guides all thought and action.

How does the language of love and courage relate to a New Democratic Party trying to find its way in a shifting political landscape?

Singh’s outward appearance solicits questions from some Canadians, as in the case of the heckler, regarding his secular position: To what degree does Singh’s religion relate to his policy ideas or conduct?

Canada: Judeo-Christian values?

Canadian political institutions and traditions are imbued with Judeo-Christian values and symbols. Yet the separation of church and state maintains religion does not dictate the making of policy and law.

However, in the game of politics, courting ethno-racial, national and religious identified voters has become a central art of party campaign strategists.

Political parties of all persuasions have had to navigate this division in a variety of ways.

In Canada, the left social democratic tradition, represented now by the New Democratic Party, has had less experience with faith-based movements and the religious identity of its leaders than their Right-Wing counterparts and left-leaning parties elsewhere in the world. Singh’s leadership challenge will likely change that.

While Singh is positioned as a secular politician, his ethos, sense of justice and formation of his identity is connected to a Sikh practice.

The very essence of the message of universal love and courage is embedded in a Sikh devotion, rather than a secular idea of loving all humankind. Practising Sikhism defines a way of life – one that is contemplative, meditative and committed to spiritualism and positive actions.

The clash of civilisations

To understand the contemporary role of religion in politics, we need to look at one of our turning points: 9/11. The attacks on New York City and the Pentagon served as a marker of the time foreign and domestic policy in North America was called upon to name Islamic terrorism as a universal enemy.

Once North America and other western governments embraced the rhetoric of a civilisation divide, the psyche of liberal democratic nations split apart. The already tenuous divide between the religious and secular began to rupture further.

This reinforced a binary division and emboldened a powerful discourse of racism and Islamophobia. The basic premise is that Islam represents something universally distinct from Christian belief systems.

This discourse of racism and difference has gained strength and societal control through the election of conservative governments with moral platforms that build on fears and anxieties of susceptible citizens.

Sixteen years of corrosive discourses since 9/11 has led to: Us vs. Them, the Clash of Civilisations and racism.

We are now at the point of the normalisation of white supremacy. It is no longer an oddity or a left-wing conspiracy theory to discuss the presence of fascism and neo-Nazis, these are events widely circulated in our social media feeds and featured during the evening news.

Religious discrimination in Canada

Islamophobia and racism are often understood to be twinned structures of oppression. In many ways they are, but there are complex differences between them. They disseminate and exist in different political, cultural and social taxonomies.

Islamophobia operates through systems of stereotypes, often misunderstanding or misrepresenting the traditions, religious practices and customs of highly diverse ethno-national and racial communities.

Islamophobia has been manufactured in multiple ways in society through popular culture, media, policy and criminalizing targeting Islam and Muslims.

Racism is a larger systemic operation of power denigrating one race while validating or elevating another.

When the Harper Conservatives were in government, they attempted to map onto Canadian national values a form of social conservatism. This was articulated through a distinction between Canada and the “barbaric cultural practices” of others.

The clear lines that were being drawn between what Harper referred to as “old stock Canadians” during a 2015 federal leaders’ debate brought into discourse front and center the relationship between white supremacy and Islamophobia.

It connected the dots between a normative white Christian Canadian identity that could stand against the racialized others.

Now the Conservative Party has a leader who proudly accepts the label: “Harper with a Smile”.

Andrew Scheer has the support of social conservatives in the Conservative Party. He has steadfastly supported free speech over the condemnation of Islamophobia and was absent during the House of Commons vote for the Anti-Islamophobia Motion M-103, overwhelmingly passed in the House of Commons.

When losing your cool is not an option

Singh said his ability to remain cool under pressure was largely owed to his experience of being a brown, Sikh and turbaned man, growing up in the 1980s in Brampton, just Northwest of Toronto.

His past experiences of religious and racist intolerance helped to fortify him against racist language and assault. In the moment in which the racist woman yelled at him, she assumed he was a Muslim. Many wondered why Singh did not attempt to correct her misconceived perception; he is not a Muslim, but rather, a Sikh.

Suggesting such a distinction in the moment, he said, would only further the misunderstanding that somehow being Muslim means such treatment is considered justifiable. His reaction, he said, should not be to proclaim his religion. By not correcting this misconception, Singh was acting in solidarity against Islamophobia.

Sikhs have been affected throughout the post-9/11 discourses of Islamophobia, mainly because of this misunderstood identity. In the US, and elsewhere, there has been a rise in hate bias attacks against Sikhs, with the 2012 Oak Creek, Wisconsin, shooting as a visible example.

While there are those who, in the similar vein as Singh, have sought to challenge Islamophobia by standing in solidarity, there have also been many instances where Sikhs in America, the UK and Canada painstakingly distinguish themselves from Muslims.

However, in countless examples, when Islamophobia is experienced in the public sphere against properly identified Muslims, there has been a lack of outcry.

In Canada, the shooting deaths in Quebec’s Sainte-Foy’s Mosque, in which Azzedine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubakar Thabthi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, and Ibrahim Barry were killed, was unmistakably an act of terrorism.

Canadians across the country mourned this tragedy. And yet was it recognised as an act of terrorism against the citizens of this state?

The day-to-day effects of Islamophobia have led to many Muslims living with heightened experiences of fear and not knowing what they might encounter on a walk to school, a day at work or even waiting for a bus.

The left social-democrats of the New Democratic Party hold steadfastly to their conception of justice, fairness and equality in a secular world. The ways in which people are encountering the public today, however, is seemingly much murkier than these stark divisions.

The issues of racism, religious intolerance and social justice are not central issues for any federal political party. These issues, however, should no longer be viewed as separate from major policy platforms including health, welfare reform, employment, national defense, national security, aboriginal relations and education.

Perhaps a political leader such as Jagmeet Singh will be able to navigate these debates with an alacrity and style we have yet to witness in the Canadian political world.

Davina Bhandar, Adjunct Professor in School of Communication and Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, Simon Fraser University.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.
We welcome your comments at: – Jagmeet Singh rallies for NDP vote drive in Brampton

Sikh24 Editors

Brampton-Ontario-Canada, 7 September 2017. The campaign for Jagmeet Singh to win the leadership drive for the federal (national) NDP party took place on home ground yesterday, following on from a Canada-wide tour that has garnered much support from all quarters.

Singh shared that in just two months from now, voting takes place for the leadership position, for which all NDP members will be requested to vote.

Within the next few days, members will receive voting cards, on which they will be required to mark their candidate selection. Advice was given on how to follow procedure to prevent rendering the vote cards void through mistakes or errors.

Jagmeet Singh was cheered and applauded when he talked of some of the policies he and his party having being pursuing, such as fair and equal treatment of the indigenous, tackling unfair carding, environmental focus and fairer taxing.

His campaign has increased the party’s membership by over 47,000 people and raised over 300 thousand dollars in a record amount of time.

With this rate of popularity growth, Jagmeet Singhs chances of succeeding get stronger and stronger. His Facebook and other social media reach has also mushroomed exponentially, especially in comparison to his rival candidates.

Jagmeet Singh’s Facebook profile:

Je suis très honoré de recevoir l’appui de l’ancien leader parlementaire Peter Julian dans la course à la direction du NPD. Peter est un néo-démocrate de longue date. Sa mobilisation de tous les instants lui a mérité du respect à travers le pays.

Il est impliqué dans le parti et en faveur de la justice sociale depuis longtemps. Il a joué un rôle crucial en 2011 et dans notre succès au Québec. Peter a su mobiliser et se battre pour un monde meilleur depuis l’adolescence. C’est un privilège d’avoir Peter parmi nous.