OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is standing by several controversial proposals from rank-and-file party members while rejecting more extreme ones — including a call to abolish the military — ahead of this weekend’s policy convention.
Singh’s tightrope walk has him hovering between the party’s grassroots and the broader Canadian public, with an eye to pleasing enough of both to boost New Democrats above their fourth-place ranking in the House of Commons in a potential election this year.
At a virtual press conference Wednesday, he said the military provided critical support at long-term care homes during the COVID-19 outbreaks last year, and he has called for further deployment to assist in the vaccine rollout.
Singh says he backs a proposed resolution condemning Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans religious symbols on police officers, teachers and other public employees, despite the law remaining widely popular in a province where the NDP hopes to make electoral gains beyond the one seat it currently holds there.
Singh says he has not taken a stance on potential policy planks that demand the removal of all statues of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and the addition of Indigenous symbols to the Canadian flag, but says monuments that send an unwelcoming message may be best placed in a museum.
NDP members from across the country have cast their ballots on more than 400 proposed resolutions to determine which will make the short list of 70 to be voted on at the party’s first policy convention since the 2019 federal election, running Friday through Sunday.