Jagmeet Singh Is Probably Wishing He Was Back In Ontario Politics

Jagmeet Singh likely wishes he was back in Ontario politics right now.

He was an Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario from 2011 to 2017, and rose quickly to the position of Deputy Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party.

But now Singh has cycled his way to the streets of Ottawa, where he can be seen floating around the NDP headquarters and, on the rarest of occasions, spotted in the foyer of the House of Commons to speak on behalf of his party.
Singh sporadically tours communities, holds fundraisers and “helps” NDP candidates contest by-elections. However, he is looking to show himself as in lockstep with his Ottawa caucus by being physically there more often than not.
Back in Singh’s old stomping grounds of Queen’s Park, the chamber is empty and a “change”-focused provincial election is underway to decide who will form the next government.

Andrea Horwath is presently running for her third time in a general election as the Ontario NDP’s Leader.

She went into the campaign virtually invisible and has only in recent weeks emerged from the shadows. She missed major kicks at the media can with the minimum wageteacher tension and provided no clear plan on hydro.

Arguably, she has been lucky to get into the game at such a strategic time. After all, in 2015, the NDP ran to the political right of the Liberals promising balanced budgets, which left voters confused about what the NDP in Ontario even stands behind.

The 2018 NDP under Horwath is rising upward, and successfully framing themselves as the only way to stop Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford to progressives.

Singh and Horwath have an accord reportedly with how they would partner on the campaign. Singh notably offered an asset to the Ontario NDP to help hold onto his old seat: his younger brother.

Of note, Singh was the de facto presence of the NDP in many areas of the GTA. When a Leadership review came around in 2014, the Ontario NDP wondered strongly if Jagmeet Singh would contest it and take the reigns.

There was time and opportunity for him to usurp the throne, but he instead chased a more Instagram-able prize: the federal leadership.

Had Singh been the provincial leader, he would have had a newfound foothold into key GTA ridings and perhaps downtown Toronto, which could be enough added in with the NDP’s traditional regions they are competitive in: Windsor, London, Northern Ontario, Ottawa Centre and more recently in my home region of Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge. With that, he could have theoretically yielded a provincial majority.

For Singh’s party federally, they sit in the third-party seats with his poll numbers hovering around 19 per centHis popularity numbers are consistently lower than his predecessor, and lauded Question Period prosecutor, Tom Mulcair.

Unlike the Liberals or Conservatives, sometimes one can forget that the NDP is connected federally and provincially in every province and territory — given that the neighbouring NDP governments of British Columbia and Alberta are currently in court fighting each other. If the two governing provincial bodies cannot agree, how does Singh plan on maintaining party and national unity? With this spat, it seems the NDP is not ideologically in sync at all.

For Singh, his penchant for oneupmanship meant he could be Andrea’s leader — in some’s eyes — and get the respect he deserved.

If the Ontario NDP win on June 7 — considering the spat — Horwath will be the natural national voice of the NDP. She will be the one Canadians will look at to decipher NDP ideology. A victory for Horwath means that once again Singh becomes her deputy. Only this time, he has no seat.

Some polls suggest Horwath could double her seat count at least with her support level around 43 per cent, although she still needs the electoral math to pan out seat-by-seat in order to win.

Singh knows he could have been Premier, and in some alternate reality, he has taken the spot.

Singh thought he was abandoning a sinking ship and now finds it cruising onward to success, as he simply treads water federally.

Shane Mackenzie, Ensight consultant and Liberal strategist.

(Published in the HuffPost on May 29, 2018)