Getting new federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to P.E.I. to meet Islanders as soon as possible will be a priority for federal NDP executive member Joe Byrne.
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Singh won the party's leadership race Sunday, taking more than 50 per cent of the votes. The 38-year-old is the party's youngest leader yet.
"I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him yet," said Byrne, a P.E.I. resident and one of two representatives for Atlantic Canada on the party's executive.
Won on first ballot
"But he captivated people — young, bright, articulate, solidly progressive, unafraid," he added.
'I think we'll see a re-energized party.' — Joe Byrne
Byrne supported candidate Guy Caron's quest for the post, but is excited at the prospect of Singh's leadership and will fully support him, he said.
"Amazing that he did it on the first ballot — good for him and his team for organizing like that."
Video showed Singh is 'unafraid'
Byrne, like many others, partly credits Singh's grace under pressure from a heckler at a meet and greet in September, who accused him of wanting to impose "sharia law."
"We support you and we love you," Singh can be seen calmy telling the woman, who shook her fists in his face and yelled for about four minutes. "It's OK. We are not intimidated by hatefulness."
"He's a bit of an unknown to most Canadians because of his background in politics in Ontario," Byrne said. "What the video did ... people say 'here is a guy that is absolutely unafraid.'"
'At the right time'
Singh has now made history as Canada's first non-white leader of a major federal party — he is a practicing Sikh who wears a turban.
"People will get by the visuals, and listen to the ideas," Byrne said.
"And his ideas are at the right time in this country ... this kind of progressive social democracy that's going to move the whole country along.
"I think we'll see a re-energized party."
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