MP Nathan Cullen endorses Singh in NDP bid

Nathen Cullen not worried about Jagmeet Singh’s lack of seat in the House of Commons.

Veteran New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen is shrugging off the fact Jagmeet Singh is in no hurry to sit in the House of Commons, choosing to endorse the member of the Ontario legislature in his bid to lead the federal NDP.

Cullen, who himself ran against eventual winner Tom Mulcair in 2012, said Wednesday he is confident the NDP’s current team of MPs — 44 all told, including three running against Singh — can hold the Liberal government to account until 2019, if necessary.

While Singh has said he’d be inclined to wait until then to run in the federal election, he has left the door open to running earlier in a byelection, adding that he’s open to ideas on “where it makes sense to run.”

Even though the NDP was cheered for its work in the Commons prior to the election, Justin Trudeau triumphed nonetheless, despite having spent little time on the floor of the House, Cullen said.

“Voters, in the end, determined they had a relationship and understood his policies better than they did ours, so he’s prime minister,” he said.

“I have no concerns at all today as I stand with Jagmeet about the concept of us going through to the next election with the incredible team that we have talked about.”

Jack Layton did not have a seat when he became leader, Cullen added.

Earlier this week, Mulcair said it would be a “heck of a lot better” if his successor had immediate access to the Commons in order to face off with Trudeau.

“I think it’s important to have a seat in the House of Commons if we’re leading a political party,” Mulcair said. “I think that ideally, you know, you should be there.”

Mulcair also said questions about his lack of a federal seat came up quickly when he became Layton’s Quebec lieutenant, prompting him to run in a federal byelection in 2007.

Charlie Angus, an Ontario MP who is also running against Singh, has also said he thinks the leader needs to be in the Commons.

“I was surprised that Jagmeet said he didn’t think he needed to be in Parliament until 2019,” Angus said Monday in an interview. “That’s his choice … my focus is Parliament, what we are going to do there and the building on the ground from that.”

The other candidates are Manitoba MP Niki Ashton and Quebec MP Guy Caron.

Singh has been able to garner the most support from the current federal caucus — a total of 11 MPs, including Cullen, who said he was swayed in part by Singh’s commitment to issues like electoral reform and climate change.

Some observers have suggested that Singh — a practising Sikh with a penchant for brightly coloured turbans — could be in for a rough ride in Quebec, where overt displays of religious faith can be a political liability.

“It is not the turban itself — it is what it means,” Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet said earlier this week. “In Quebec, what we decided in the 60s … we decided to separate religion and the state. That’s really important for us.”

Quebec NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice, who is not publicly backing any particular candidate in the leadership race, acknowledged that the separation of church and state has been a long-standing issue in Quebec.

Personally, he said, he respects those who want to show their faith.

“I think it’s their freedom,” Boulerice said. “I don’t have any problem with that. I don’t want political decisions being driven by only religious point of view, but that has nothing to do with the signs that you are showing off or not.”

He also said he believes in the ability of Quebecers to listen to what Singh has to offer.

“The ideas are important,” he said. “I believe that Quebecers are tolerant and inclusive and will accept that.”

Quebec MP Guy Caron and Manitoba MP Niki Ashton are also seeking the party’s top job along with Singh and Angus. Caron has the backing of eight MPs, while Ashton has received nods from five. Angus is supported by two.

Voting for a new federal NDP leader began on Monday, with the winner to be declared some time next month.

—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

CVSAR team submitted photo
CVSAR calls have doubled

CVSAR responds to various emergencies

Logo of Election BC
Election candidates adapt to pandemic

COVID-19 protocols make for unique campaign

Submitted photo of Manny Osborne-Paradis
Manny Osborne-Paradis retires after 16 years of World Cup ski racing

One of Canada’s most accomplished skiers shifts his focus to family time, school time

Photo of the owners of KaBre Candle & Bath co, Brenda Valer and Kayle Prichard, by Camille Aubin
New business in town: KaBre Candle & Bath co

Where to find your candle and bath product

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read