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Jagmeet Singh Says He'll 'Absolutely' Lead NDP Into 2019 Election, Even If He Loses In Burnaby South

The NDP leader is now chomping at the bit for a seat in the House of Commons.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addresses the NDP staff forum in Ottawa on Dec. 4, 2018.
Sean Kilpatrick/CP
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addresses the NDP staff forum in Ottawa on Dec. 4, 2018.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says a looming byelection, widely being seen as make-or-break for his political career, isn't so make-or-break after all.

Singh appeared on CTV's "Power Play" Monday to discuss his bid to represent the British Columbia riding of Burnaby South, left vacant by former NDP MP turned Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

The former deputy Ontario NDP leader from Brampton currently does not hold a seat in the House of Commons. A loss in Burnaby South could jeopardize his leadership of a party struggling to attract fundraising donations and support in opinion polls as the clock ticks down to a federal election in less than 10 months.

A number of veteran NDP MPs have also announced they won't run for re-election.

'I will absolutely be the leader'

Host Don Martin asked Singh if he will be taking New Democrats into the fall campaign, even if he loses in B.C.

"I will absolutely be the leader that leads the New Democratic Party to the 2019 general election," Singh said.

Watch the exchange:

This isn't the first time Singh has been pressed on his political future in the event of a possible loss. During his party's 2017 leadership race, he faced pressure from other candidates to declare if he would run in the next federal election, even if he wasn't successful at becoming party boss.

Singh responded then that the question was moot because he was going to win the NDP leadership. He defended his high level of confidenceduring one debate with the declaration: "With respect, I will not lose."

The former MPP ended up easily winning on the first ballot, but repeatedly stated that he was comfortable waiting until 2019 to seek a federal seat. With eyes on running in Brampton, he sat out byelections in B.C., Quebec, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Singh pivoted in August by announcing his bid in Burnaby South. He recently told supporters that he's moved into the riding with his wife.

Watch: Jagmeet Singh says NDP fortunes are turning around

In late October, Singh released a joint letter with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and interim Bloc Québécois Leader Mario Beaulieu demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau call byelections in three vacant ridings. Trudeau raised eyebrows at the time by only calling one vote in a Conservative Ontario riding that stayed blue last month.

Though Trudeau brushed aside criticism over the matter, he is expected to soon call those other contests to take place in February. A fourth seat opened up last week with the resignation of Nanaimo-Ladysmith's NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson, who is trying to jump to the B.C. legislature.

At a rally in Burnaby over the weekend, Singh accused Trudeau of ragging the puck by not immediately calling the byelections, saying it was a "decision that impacts the bedrock of our democracy." Scheer also released a statement Friday demanding Trudeau "do the right thing" and call the contests.

In his CTV interview, Singh charged that Trudeau was making a "deeply disappointing" partisan decision to delay giving voters in vacant ridings the chance to elect new representation.

"If it's not in the interest of people, maybe it's in the interest of the Liberal Party," he said.

While Greens have opted not to run against Singh in Burnaby South because of a so-called "leader's courtesy," local daycare owner Karen Wang will represent the Grits and lawyer Jay Shin will run for the Conservatives.

Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson, a former co-host of "The 700 Club Canada" and Christian blogger, has also been nominated to run in Burnaby South under the banner of Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada.

Despite Singh's high profile, at least one poll suggests he may not be the frontrunner. A Mainstreet Research poll from November put New Democrats at third place in Burnaby South.

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