The Pollcast: New members, old problems in NDP leadership race

New figures show the NDP has tripled its membership since March, but the apparent enthusiasm for the party's leadership race comes as candidates grapple with a thorny issue — the niqab. Pollcast host Éric Grenier is joined by the CBC's Aaron Wherry to discuss.

Host Éric Grenier is joined by the CBC's Aaron Wherry

More than 124,000 members of the NDP will choose between (from left to right) Jagmeet Singh, Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Guy Caron to be their next leader. (The Canadian Press)

The CBC Pollcast, hosted by CBC poll analyst Éric Grenier, explores the world of electoral politics, political polls and the trends they reveal.

When voting begins on Sept. 18, over 124,000 members of the NDP will be eligible to cast a ballot and choose the next leader of their party.

That number, announced Tuesday, was bigger than many expected — and suggest that Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh, who claims his campaign has signed up over 47,000, is the favourite to win.

​But as the party welcomes thousands of new members into the fold, the four candidates for the leadership are still grappling with an old question. What should be the NDP's position on the niqab?

Quebec's provincial government is considering legislation that would prevent the giving and receiving of government services by people wearing religious symbols.

Every candidate in the NDP race says they want to protect religious freedoms, but both Guy Caron and Niki Ashton have also emphasized the need to respect Quebec's distinctiveness. Are they trying to have it both ways?

And is Singh's uncompromising position against the provincial legislation — and that he is a turban-wearing Sikh — a problem for the NDP in Quebec, the province that sent the largest number of NDP MPs to the House of Commons in 2015?

To discuss the state of the NDP leadership race, Pollcast host Éric Grenier is joined by the CBC's Aaron Wherry.

Listen to the full discussion above — or subscribe to the CBC Pollcast and listen to past episodes.

Follow Éric Grenier on Twitter.


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