Politics

Liberals confirm they're running against Singh as byelections planned for February

The Liberals will wait until the new year before calling byelections to fill three vacancies in the House of Commons - including one that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hopes will finally secure him a seat.

NDP leader will have to wait until the new year to get a crack at a seat in Parliament

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will have to wait until February to run in the Burnaby South byelection. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will get his chance to enter Parliament in February, when the Liberal government holds byelections to fill the three remaining vacancies in the House of Commons, CBC News has confirmed.

The Liberals recently called a byelection in the Ontario riding of Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes for Dec. 3, leaving vacancies in three other ridings unfilled. That move was met with a chorus of criticism from the Conservatives, New Democrats, Bloc Québécois and Greens, who demanded that votes also be called to fill the vacancies in the ridings of Outremont, York–Simcoe and Burnaby South.

As first reported by The Hill Times and confirmed to CBC News by a Liberal source, the Liberals intend to call the byelections early in the new year, with the date to be set for some point in February.

Singh announced he would be the NDP's candidate in Burnaby South in early August, before former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart had officially vacated the seat. Stewart announced earlier in the year that he would be resigning to mount what would turn out to be a successful bid for the mayor's office in Vancouver. The seat has only been officially vacant since mid-September.

The NDP leader is likely to have a tough fight on his hands. While the Greens have decided they will extend the "leader's courtesy" to Singh by not putting up a candidate against him, both the Liberals and Conservatives will contest the seat.

A recent poll by Mainstreet Research suggested the New Democrats were running third in the riding, though the poll showed a considerable number of undecideds and had a relatively high margin of error.

The Montreal riding of Outremont, vacated by former NDP leader Tom Mulcair over the summer, is also expected to be difficult for the New Democrats to hold: the Liberals are riding high in the polls in Quebec and the NDP has suffered a significant drop in support there.

The Liberals have yet to nominate a candidate in Outremont. The New Democrats have nominated Julia Sanchez to try to retain the seat for the party.

The Conservatives have nominated businessman Scot Davidson to hold the Ontario riding of York–Simcoe for the party, after the resignation of former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Van Loan in September. The riding is not expected to change colours.

The only opposition party leader that did not criticize the Liberal decision to hold off on calling the three byelections until next year was Maxime Bernier of the People's Party of Canada. As a newly-formed party, the PPC was not eligible to run candidates in any byelection called within 60 days of his application for registration with Elections Canada in October.

Once the byelections are called and the PPC nominates candidates — as Bernier has said he will do in all three ridings — his party will fulfill the final step to become an officially registered party, allowing the PPC to award tax receipts to its donors.

By law, the Liberals have until Jan. 30 to call the byelection in Outremont. The other two contests have to be called by March.

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