The members of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada have elected Jagmeet Singh as their new leader, making him the first visible minority to be elected leader of a major Canadian federal party.
Earlier today, 38-year-old Singh won the position in the first ballot with 35,266 ballots of the 65,782 ballots cast or 53.6% of the total vote. He defeated Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Guy Caron.
The former criminal defence lawyer entered Ontario’s provincial politics in 2011 when he was elected MLA of the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton. He was the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit in Ontario’s legislature.
He also speaks fluent French and Punjabi and was born in Scarborough, Ontario in 1979.
Singh, who now lives in Brampton, Ontario, practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and competed in mixed martial arts competitions when he was younger.
During his victory speech, Singh thanked former party leader Tom Mulcair and emphasized the importance of grassroots activism within the party.
“Look at what we have been able to accomplish in just a few short months. Now imagine what we can do in just two years,” he said, referring to the upcoming federal election.
He also spoke of the challenges of being a visible minority in Canada, despite being born in the country.
“Growing up with brown skin, long hair and a funny sounding name meant I faced some challenges, he continued.
“I have been stopped by police multiple times for no other reason than the colour of my skin. It makes you feel like you don’t belong and there is something with you for just being you. That’s why as Prime Minister, I will make sure that no one in Canada is stopped by the police just because of the way they look or the colour of their skin.”
Singh says he will follow through on his campaign promises of focusing on income inequality, housing affordability, climate change, reconciliation, and electoral reform.