British Columbia

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wins federal seat in high-stakes Burnaby South byelection

For the first time, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has a seat in the House of Commons, after claiming victory in a high-stakes byelection in Burnaby South.

Federal byelection was seen as test of Singh’s leadership

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh celebrates his Burnaby South byelection win as he arrives at his election night party in Burnaby on Monday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

For the first time, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has a seat in the House of Commons, after claiming victory in a high-stakes byelection in Burnaby South. 

The Vancouver-area race was largely seen as a test of Singh's leadership, as he faced off against Liberal candidate Richard T. Lee, a former B.C. MLA, and Conservative candidate Jay Shin, a lawyer and newcomer to politics.

In 2017, Singh made history when he became the first non-white leader of a major Canadian federal party. Since then, he's led the NDP without a federal seat.

In his victory speech on Monday night, Singh said it was a "new day."

"When I was growing up I could have never imagined someone like me running for prime minister, but guess what we just told a lot of kids out there that yes, you can," he said.

"And I know that carries a lot of responsibility and I understand that responsibility and I want you to know that when I take my seat in the House of Commons I will work very hard to make you all very proud."

Singh touts health care, housing

While Singh highlighted some of the issues critical to Burnaby South, he also touted a national platform — calling for expanded health coverage, building half a million affordable housing units across Canada, transitioning to a green economy, and working towards reconciliation with Indigenous communities.

Watch part of Jagmeet Singh's victory speech here:

Jagmeet Singh calls for change in Ottawa after byelection win

3 years ago
1:18
NDP leader rallies supporters after Burnaby South win, calls for change in Ottawa 1:18

Singh criticized the Liberals and Conservatives and called out the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

He also addressed growing distrust of immigration.

"New Canadians and people who are fleeing are not responsible for the problems that we're faced with," he said.

"We'll address that uncertainty and fear by giving people something to hope, something to dream."

With all polls reporting, the NDP claimed 39 per cent of the vote, the Liberals 26 per cent, the Conservatives 22.5 per cent, and the People's Party 10.6 per cent.

Just under 29 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot, not including electors who registered on election day.

Rough Liberal ride

The Liberals usually put up a strong showing in Burnaby. In the 2015 federal election, the Liberals came within 547 votes of the winning NDP candidate, Kennedy Stewart, who resigned the seat in September 2018 for a successful run at Vancouver's mayoralty.

But this time around, they faced challenges in the campaign.

Their first candidate, Karen Wang, resigned after pointing out Singh's ethnicity online.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been besieged by allegations his office pressured then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin — a scandal Singh alluded to in his speech.

"We have eight more months to let the people know we have a government … that doesn't give handouts to SNC-Lavalin, but stands up for everyday Canadians," he said.

Watch more of Jagmeet Singh's victory speech here:

Jagmeet Singh says 'we can fix it’

3 years ago
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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Canada can make different choices and get better results 1:59

But Lee, who replaced Wang as the Liberal candidate in January, said that as he went door-to-door constituents were concerned with local issues like housing and transportation, not the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

He said the Liberals ran a strong campaign and he is considering running again in the fall.

"I look forward to more debate ... in elections, sometimes it's difficult to get the message across so I believe in the fall [it will] be much better."

Singh addresses Quebec

The NDP also faced a test in the Montreal-area riding of Outremont on Monday, which was vacated by the party's former leader, Thomas Mulcair. Liberal candidate Rachel Bendayan was the successful candidate in that riding.

Singh made a special pitch to Quebec, saying he knew Outremont would be a tough riding, but that the NDP supports legislation supported by many Quebecers, primarily surrounding green energy and the environment. 

The NDP has struggled since Singh became leader in 2017. The party now sits at 14 per cent nationally, 11 per cent in Quebec and 16 per cent in B.C., according to CBC's Poll Tracker.

In a third byelection in York-Simcoe, Ont., on Monday CPC candidate Scot Davidson is the successful candidate.

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