Monday , November 30 2020

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh campaigns in Montreal ahead of hard byelection battle

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh ventured into his predecessor's former territory on Saturday when he fought in Montreal's Outremont riding in front of several federal city lessons expected to take place early next year.

Singh shook hands and chatted in French as he visited local businesses along with NDP candidate Julia Sanchez.

The riding was abandoned earlier this year by former OD leader Tom Mulcair, whose 2007 city-election victory represented a breakthrough for NDP in Quebec.

Mulcair continued to win riding three times before leaving the policy to take a teacher's job.

Despite NDP's previous success in Outremont, the party could face a challenge when the city lesson is called.

Its results in recent city selections have been disappointing, and Sanchez has never made a choice before.

The NDP finished a third in a city lesson in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, which the conservatives won in June, taking only 8.7 percent of the votes on a riding of the NDP won in 2011.

Singh speaks to a man and a woman in a coffee shop during his trip to Outremont Saturday. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press)

The previous October, NDP finished a fourth fourth in a Lac-Saint-Jean city lesson, which was won by the Liberals.

But despite these losses, the NDP leader expressed confidence in Saturday.

"You can't compare city selection results to general election results," Singh said. "I don't think it's a fair comparison."

Singh expects its environmental platform, including promises of green energy jobs and investments, to win over Quebecers.

"Between the heat wave in Quebec, which saw significant lives lost, floods and extreme weather across Canada, more and more people are really worried about what we do to fight climate change," he said.

No predictions about city lessons

Singh did not offer a prediction at the Outremont City Selection, but acknowledged that the riding had symbolic significance as the birthplace of the so-called orange wave driving the party to its best place in the province in 2011.

But while he has made several trips here, not everyone in Outremont seemed to recognize the NDP leader when he stopped at a patisserie and cafe on Saturday.

As he attracted curiosity, more people asked who he was and wondered if he was Canada's defense minister.

However, Singh was well-received when he introduced himself to restaurant customers, chatting in French as he asked them about their political priorities.

Sanchez welcomes the challenge

On his side was Sanchez, a political newcomer who has spent the last seven years in Ottawa as CEO of the Canadian International Cooperation Council.

She said she was happy with the challenge of moving back to Montreal and taking on a high profile job in her first political struggle.

Singh and NDP candidate for riding Outremont Julia Sanchez cross a street during a tour of the Montreal district. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press)

"I've been knocking on the doors since August, and people are really proud of the work that NDP and Thomas Mulcair and the team did … and I think they will have continuity," she said.

Sanchez faces the liberal candidate Rachel Bendayan, a lawyer who joined Mulcair in the last election, while the conservatives have announced Jasmine Louras as their candidate.

Singh also proved sure to win his own battle for a seat in British Columbia running in Burnaby South when the next round of city lessons is called.

He said he has moved to riding and sees a lot of support from people on earth as he fights for issues including the environment and the need for affordable housing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce the date of city elections to Burnaby South, Outremont and York-Simcoe, Ont., Riding early in the New Year.

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