News / Ottawa

Jagmeet Singh hopes to change the idea about who can lead Canada

Metro sits down with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

Newly elected NDP leader Jagmeet Singh talks with Metro about the challenges. ahead.

Dave Chan / For Metro

Newly elected NDP leader Jagmeet Singh talks with Metro about the challenges. ahead.

Walking down the hallway of party headquarters, Jagmeet Singh passes portraits of his predecessors and even in the NDP he stands out.

The former leaders on the hallway walls, party saints like Jack Layton and Tommy Douglas, are all white and Singh is a Sikh, turban-wearing man, Canada’s first visible minority major party leader.

In 2019, when he attempts to take Justin Trudeau’s job, Singh is confident his race won’t be a factor.

“Canada is a place of incredible generosity in terms of generosity of spirit.” he said in an exclusive interview with Metro. “People have an open spirit, I feel.”

Singh is realistic that there will be challenges.

“There will be struggles there are always struggles — but we can achieve so much more. I think that hopeful optimism is going to carry the day.”

Singh said he’s grateful for those that broke barriers before him and as he breaks one of his own, he hopes he is changing the idea about who can lead Canada.

“If I can inspire a new generation of leaders to think of themselves as leaders in their own field, sectors, communities, or even in politics, than I will have done something meaningful.”

Drawing on his own experiences, one area where Singh wants to change Canadian law is in how police interact with minority communities.

“When you’re stopped again and again in your own community and you have not done anything, you’re not under specific investigation. You’re just being stopped for who you are, it makes you feel there is something wrong with you for being you.”

Singh said he wants a system where RCMP officer provide a rights declaration when they interact with the public making it clear people can leave. He also favour a receipt process.

“If someone is stopped multiple times they have a recourse. They can look at the receipts and say ‘is it possible I matched the description four days in a row?’”

He said it would show leadership that could trickle down to other police forces not under the federal government’s purview.

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