Monday August 22, 2016
Episode nine: Jagmeet's Disarming Style
MPP Jagmeet Singh's involvement in Sleepover happened by chance. I was in a food court, ordering a spicy roti from a Punjabi stall when I struck up an interesting conversation with the young man making the food. He recognized me from when I worked at MuchMusic and asked what I was up to now. I told him about Sleepover, and he said that I should meet his brother, Jagmeet Singh.
I recognized the name immediately, he was the handsome MPP from all the style blogs. I was excited but hesitant. In my experience the hardest people to interview are police and politicians. Most everything they say publicly sticks closely to a scripted message, carefully worded and impersonal. The young man stirring a mango lassi assured me that his brother was different.
MPP Jagmeet Singh, is not your average politician. Growing up as a Punjabi-Canadian of the Sikh faith in Windsor Ontario, he felt the sting of racism. He was called a terrorist and physically attacked by other teenagers. Jagmeet learned to fight back, taking up martial arts and boxing.
As a criminal defense lawyer he offered free legal counsel to marginalized communities, spurred by his own experiences being confronted by the police. Now, Jagmeet channels that fighting spirit into serving his constituents and quelling social injustices from within the walls of his Brampton office.
Jagmeet has not yet become jaded or overly-cautious. He puts high importance on authenticity, which is what convinced him to take part in Sleepover despite concerns raised by his team. Which brings us to Jagmeet's problem: he wants to be known for his substance rather than his style.
Jagmeet works hard to disarm ignorance and racism. He wears brightly coloured turbans and presents a friendly manner to dispel cultural assumptions. Inadvertently, he's gained the reputation for being fashionable. This once winning formula may be becoming a liability, as he appears on more well-dressed lists. He wants the focus on issues faced by his constituents, not what he's wearing.
PHOTOS FROM THE EPISODE