The four candidates in the running to lead the federal New Democratic Party took part in the Leadership Showcase on September 17 in an attempt to make their final arguments to voters. The event, which took place in Hamilton, gave each of the four candidates 22 minutes to give a speech to the NDP members in attendance, in hopes of securing enough votes to win.
Four candidates remain in the race: MPP Jagmeet Singh, MP Niki Ashton, MP Guy Caron, and MP Charlie Angus. Of the candidates, Singh has received the most recent attention in the media, mostly due to a viral video of one of his campaign events after a woman falsely accused Singh of supporting Sharia law in Canada. Singh has run a campaign largely focused on engaging young people and utilizing social media to bring attention to important issues. Policy wise, Singh supports reducing Canadian carbon emissions and phasing out coal use, the decriminalization of use of illicit drugs, and police & criminal justice reform. Singh also would be the first person of colour to lead a major political party in Canada if elected. He is also the only remaining leadership hopeful to have no experience at the federal level of politics. Singh has won endorsements from the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) and several other elected off
Charlie Angus, who serves not only as a Member of Parliament but is a former journalist and successful musician, is another of the remaining candidates. Of the four, Angus is the candidate who has the most experience working on Indigenous issues, including having worked extensively for the rights of Indigenous children. Angus also drew news in 2005 when he stood by his support for marriage equality, despite a threat from his own priest to deny him Communion if he did not change his stance. Angus has been endorsed by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and several other Members of Parliament.
Guy Caron, an MP from the riding of Rimouski-Neigette in Quebec, is a former economist who has runlargelyon the idea of a universal basic income for all Canadians. He also believes he has the ability to make the party much more competitive electorally in his home province of Quebec, where it has historically struggled. Caron has been endorsed by United Steelworkers.
Niki Ashton is the final of the four, who currently serves as the MP for the riding of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski. Considered the favourite of the left in the party, Ashton is committed to making post-secondary education free throughout the country, tackling income inequality, and fighting against unfair trade deals. Ashton has also been endorsed by the NDP Socialist Caucus and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.
The race has been mature and policy focused thus-far, in stark contrast to last year’s American presidential election. However, there has been a debate over Singh’s support of Wab Kinew, the recently too close leader of the Manitoba NDP. Knew, who has pledged his support to Singh, has been accused of domestic abuse by his former partner. While both Singh and Ashton have pledged to support survivors of domestic abuse, Ashton has criticised Singh for accepting Kinew’s endorsement.
Ryan James, who works for the provincial NDP in the office of Niagara MPP Wayne Gates, was happy about the results of the Showcase and the prospects of the party: “It was a great sign for the NDP. They packed the Hamilton Convention Centre with people from all across Ontario who came to hear four very different but exciting pathways forward for the party,” James stated. “I think anyone who was there or watching on TV gets a sense that the NDP that’s coming out of this leadership is going to be a renewed and exciting movement.”
Results of the first round of voting for the new leader of the party will be announced on October 1. One of the candidates must receive an outright majority of votes in order to win, and if no candidate does, more votes will follow. The voting is only open to registered members of the NDP.