Most Canadians could vote for a Sikh man like new federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, according to a new poll by Angus Reid.
The online survey, conducted between October 2 and October 4, asked 1,477 Canadians for their views on Sikh politicians and Singh himself.
The poll came just days after Singh, a former lawyer and martial artist, was elected new NDP leader with 53.6% of the vote from NDP party members.
Singh’s election as NDP leader was a historic moment; he is the first member of a visible minority to lead one of Canada’s three largest political parties.
And it seems among the general Canadian populace, he could prove to be a popular choice for Prime Minister, if he leads the party into the next federal election.
Angus Reid found 69% of Canadians polled said they could vote for a Sikh man who wears a turban and carries a kirpan, as Singh does.
That majority of support for a Sikh man like Singh carries across the whole political spectrum too, with most Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP voters in favour.
However, despite this majority of support for a Sikh leader, it seems that as with so many issues, Canadians are still conflicted.
Half of the poll respondents said some or most of their close friends and family could not vote for a Sikh man who wears a turban and carries a kirpan.
And when those polled were asked what Canadians thought of voting for a Sikh man, 80% said they thought most or some Canadians could cast their vote for such a man.
So is Singh climbing an uphill battle or not? Well, it turns out, most of those polled had heard of him, at least a little. A third said they had never heard of Singh until asked.
And of those who had heard of Singh, 61% said they had a moderately or very favourable view of the new NDP leader.
Some 71% thought having a visible minority leading a major political party was good for Canada overall.
And 77% said a politician’s policies were what matters, not their religious or cultural identity.
But again, despite their overwhelming support for judging the man on his policies, 54% of Canadians polled seemed to think Singh’s religion would still hurt his chances.