Sunday August 22, 2021 | NATIONAL [Updated Aug 23, 2021]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
It’s been 10 years since the passing of the former NDP Leader Jack Layton. Regardless of political stripe or persuasion, it’s a memory of the Canadian landscape not lost on most people.
Layton fought for the politics of making things better through collaboration and love, right to the very end on his death bed, with his wife Olivia Chow at his side. Under Layton’s leadership, the NDP party achieved 103 seats in the May 2011 election, just months before his death by cancer.
Today NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh held a brief memorial campaign stop out front of Toronto City Hall in Nathan Phillips Square, during this 44th federal election that got underway one week ago. Under sunny skies Singh wrote a message on a chalkboard behind the podium, before getting started: “We are going to carry the torch for you.”
With church-tower bells heard ringing in the background at the top of the hour, vibrating through the airwaves as he addressed media questions, Singh said that it’s fitting to recognize “all of Jack Layton’s contributions” in the proposed renaming of the Toronto-Danforth riding as Danforth-Layton.
Singh addressed a few Sunday-morning questions. He was asked about Canada’s apparently slow response to the current Afghanistan refugee evacuation situation and about the Layton legacy.
He said Canada’s response to the “humanitarian crisis” in Afghanistan should have been simpler and more efficient, i.e. “quickly streamlined” for people on the ground there who are trying to flee before the Taliban establishes full control of the country, especially those who helped Canadian soldiers during the 20 years first-world countries have been in Afghanistan.
Regarding Layton, Singh said: “Jack Layton had a vision. He believed he could show you that you could have a New Democrat as an MP” (as part of explaining Layton’s impact to win dozens of seats in Quebec in 2011), and that the NDP would make a difference for people. “That’s a choice all Canadians can make,” Singh said in a short upbeat podium session.
Where the votes will come from:
In addition to votes from the party faithful, Singh is also evidently counting on the youth vote (punctuated by his current fame on TikTok) as well as anyone who has doubts about the current leadership in Canada and how things have been handled during the pandemic and attempts at economic recovery.
Singh repeated the New Democrat goal that is forefront in this campaign… to have the “ultra-rich pay their fair share” and use those revenues “to support people”.
Today’s podium set:
Singh was accompanied today on-camera by Jack Layton’s son Mike Layton, who in his father’s footsteps is a Toronto city councillor.
Singh’s wife Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu is also on the campaign trail, at Jagmeet’s side. As a couple they are expecting their first child later this year. Singh, 42, and Kaur Sidhu, 31, were married in February 2018. Gurkiran Kaur is a fashion designer and co-founder of Jangiiro, a Punjabi clothing line co-founded with her sister.
Week 2 coming up:
Tomorrow marks the beginning of Week 2 of the 36-day (five-week) campaign during which Canadians will elect their members of parliament for the 44th Parliament of Canada.
Here on south Vancouver Island, the NDP incumbents are Randall Garrison (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) seeking his fourth term, Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) seeking his third term, and Laurel Collins (seeking her second term).