Nfld. & Labrador

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh commits to have more than 300 candidates by next week

Jagmeet Singh says he's "absolutely confident" the NDP will have a full slate of candidates in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Singh says party would also work with province to address high power rates in N.L.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in St. John's on Tuesday to share the details of the party's New Deal for People. (Marie Isabelle Rochon/Radio-Canada)

While the New Democratic Party has few federal candidates in place at the moment, party leader Jagmeet Singh says he will have more than 300 candidates committed to running for the party by mid-September.

The NDP leader was in St. John's on Tuesday, supporting candidate and former MP Jack Harris and promoting the party's New Deal for People, aimed at lowering the cost of living.

Singh said more candidates are coming soon. 

"We've got about half the candidates, and by the end of next week we'll have 302, so we'll be about 90 per cent of the way," he said.

"We're absolutely confident that come election time that we'll have all candidates in 338 ridings so people can surely vote NDP wherever they live."

Singh said the party has taken more time in its recruiting to do things differently, like having more diverse candidates across the country in advance of the election expected Oct. 21. 

People are working harder and harder but they're not getting ahead.… That's something we've got to change.- Jagmeet Singh 

"We haven't seen a lot of representation in the House of Commons that reflects our country, and one of the biggest gaps has been women," he said.

"We can't change that by just hoping it'll change on its own; it takes some effort, and I've made this a really big priority for me as leader."

That's taken more time to get candidates in place, but Singh said while the other parties appoint candidates, the NDP follow a democratic process.

The NDP leader said more than half the party's candidates are women and nearly 10 per cent are Indigenous.

Although the party has just two of seven candidates in place in Newfoundland and Labrador, Singh said he's "absolutely confident" the party will have a full slate of candidates in the province.

'Things are getting more and more expensive'

Jagmeet Singh visited the Newfoundland Housing and Homelessness Network on Tuesday morning to share the party's plan for the province.

"I know that right now in Newfoundland and Labrador, there's a lot of struggles," he said.

"Things are getting more and more expensive, people are working harder and harder but they're not getting ahead.… That's something we've got to change."

Singh, who was born in Scarborough, Ont., moved with his family to Newfoundland and Labrador when he was one. He spent time living in both St. John's and Grand Falls-Windsor.

The party's plan includes universal prescription and dental coverage, making child care and housing more available and affordable and implementing a price cap on cellphone plans.

Singh said the party would also work with the province to address electricity rates as a result of Muskrat Falls and retrofit homes to make them more efficient and reduce consumption of energy. 

Singh headed to Jack Harris's campaign office for a meet and greet later Tuesday afternoon.

Harris, a former MP and former provincial NDP leader, is running to oust Liberal Nick Whalen in St. John's East. Whalen defeated Harris there in 2015. 

Singh described Harris as "an incredible champion for St. John's East."

'A lot of great memories'

Singh also recalled his time in St. John's as a child, when he and his family lived near the Waterford Hospital, where his father was a psychiatry resident.

"Bowring Park was where we spent so much of my childhood," he said.

"This is where I learned how to ride a bike, this is where I learned how to swim."

Although Singh and his family spent only about five years in Newfoundland and Labrador, he said he still has a connection with the province.

"When you live somewhere, you always feel a little bit of an attachment to it, so when I hear news about Newfoundland and Labrador, it touches me a bit. I want to know what's going on," he said.

Both Singh's siblings were born in St. John's, and in light of his brother being heckled during a festival in Mississauga, Ont., this weekend, he said he couldn't recall experiencing hate or racism as a kid in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"We were really welcomed with open arms.… We had a lot of love, a lot of support and a lot of great memories."

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