Jagmeet Singh, the leader of Canada’s NDP, and the crack in his carefully managed image

25 October 2019
When asked if he supports an independent Sikh state, Jagmeet Singh has spoken in broad terms about his enthusiastic support for the right to self-determination.
MARK BLICH/REUTERS
When asked if he supports an independent Sikh state, Jagmeet Singh has spoken in broad terms about his enthusiastic support for the right to self-determination.
MARK BLICH/REUTERS

On 22 October, Canada reelected Justin Trudeau from the Liberal Party as its prime minister. The party fell short of the 170 seats needed for a majority in Canada’s 338-seat House of Commons. It is now looking to form a minority government, with the support of other parties. Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party who was also a contender to be the country’s prime minister, might lend his party’s support to Trudeau.

Over the years, Singh has emerged as a poster boy of Canada’s multiculturalism. But in an interview that Singh gave shortly after being elected as the leader of the NDP in October 2017, he revealed a crack in his carefully managed image. The following excerpt from the journalist Daniel Block’s “Model Minority,” the cover story of The Caravan’s February 2018 issue, explores Singh’s identity politics with respect to the Indian context.

Less than 24 hours after winning the race to lead the NDP, Jagmeet sat down for an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Terry Milewski. Aired on “Power & Politics,” CBC’s prominent evening news show, the conversation was arguably Jagmeet’s most important to date. It did not go as planned.

To begin with, Jagmeet’s campaign tried to get hold of the list of questions beforehand. “Jagmeet Singh soon on @pnpcbcafter threatening to cancel if not told the questions first,” Milewski tweeted out hours before the programme. “He reconsidered on being told no.”

It was an embarrassing moment for Jagmeet, whose public persona was thus far largely built on his own team’s astute use of social media and on flattering press coverage (the writer who conducted Singh’s fawning GQ interview later joined his campaign). Another CBC correspondent replied to Milewski’s tweet, noting that it is “against CBC’s journalistic standards to give questions. Party comms ppl know that.”

Daniel Block is an editor with Washington Monthly. He was formerly a Luce scholar working for The Caravan from 2017 to 2018.

Keywords: 1984 sikh riots Sikh 1984 Canada Khalistan Justin Trudeau
COMMENT