Opinion Column

It’s a new dawn for federal NDP with Jagmeet Singh win, nightmare for Trudeau Liberals

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Jagmeet Singh. (Craig Robertson/Postmedia Network File Photo)

Jagmeet Singh. (Craig Robertson/Postmedia Network File Photo)

“It’s a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me, ooh...And I'm feelin' good.”  Nina Simone, Feeling Good

A new day in federal politics has indeed dawned, with the New Democrats now led by a charismatic, young urban leader Jagmeet Singh just as Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have fallen behind Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives in the polls.

It’s a one-two punch for the pugilistic prime minister a right hook from an Angus Reid Institute poll last week put his party actually trailing the Conservatives for the first time since his 2015 election, with the Liberals dropping to 33% to the Tories’ rising 36%.

Then a left hook from Singh, who is intent on knocking the Liberals out of the suburban Toronto and Vancouver ridings they depend on for their Parliamentary majority.

And with both Singh and Scheer just 38 years old, Trudeau becomes the “old man” of major party leaders at 45!

The energetic and hip Singh, who triumphed over second place finisher NDP MP Charlie Angus whom I supported and MPs Niki Ashton and Guy Caron, represents a huge threat to the Liberals in two ways.

First, Singh has a formidable following and high recognition in seat-rich central Toronto, Singh’s home in nearby Brampton, Mississauga and Oakville. That area delivered all 24 seats to the Liberals in 2015, defeating incumbent New Democrats and Conservatives.

The Liberals also won all 14 seats in suburban Toronto’s Don Valley, Etobicoke and Scarborough, again defeating NDP and Tory MPs.

Singh will work hard to regain the NDP’s seven lost Toronto-area ridings and grab more from the Liberals.

But Singh’s urban appeal is doubly damaging to Trudeau because any major leakage of Liberal votes to the NDP could allow the Conservatives to regain lost seats too, in three-way splits.

Singh will also help the NDP be more competitive in Greater Vancouver area ridings where they lost two seats to the Liberals in 2015 and came close in others, while the Conservatives lost seven. Again, the Tories are grinning at the possibility of more three-way splits.

And suddenly the Liberals 30-seat majority over the opposition in 2015 seems stunningly vulnerable.

Singh’s new dawn looks like a nightmare for Justin Trudeau – and a possible dream for both the NDP and Conservatives.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com. Twitter: @BillTieleman