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Four years ago today, Canada was in the midst of a federal election and, for the first time ever, the New Democratic Party was in the lead.

Now, with another election on the horizon, the New Democrats are just trying to hold on to the seats they can.

The party is facing a number of challenges. After the 2015 election, leader Tom Mulcair lost the confidence of the party’s members in part because of the feeling that long-sought-after success had been in the NDP’s grasp, but he had let it slip away. Party organization fell in shambles while the search for a new leader was on. Even after then-Ontario-MPP Jagmeet Singh won the leadership, it’s been difficult for the party to raise enough funds to compete with the Liberals and Conservatives and it’s been hard to build a full slate of candidates to run in the election.

Still, the party has found a new mojo since Mr. Singh won a federal by-election earlier this year and entered the House of Commons. (As the first racialized leader of a major political party, Mr. Singh is also used to overcoming adversity that other party leaders have never faced.)

And you never really know what will happen in an election: Last time the Liberals roared from third to first in a matter of months.

As part of hitting the reset button on the campaign, the NDP released their official slogan this morning: “In it for you.”

“People tell me I’m different from the other leaders,” Mr. Singh said in a video ad that accompanies today’s launch. “And I am. I don’t work for the wealthy and well-connected. I don’t think government should be run for their benefit, like it has for decades.”

For more, read political writer Adam Radwanski’s new feature on the inside story of the NDP’s campaign.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


Speaking of elections: Britain may be on track for a snap vote over – what else? – Brexit. A Conservative MP defected to the Liberal-Democrats, meaning that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost his working majority in Parliament. And a gang of opposition MPs and a dozen Conservative rebels are trying to block Mr. Johnson from taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal. Mr. Johnson has said he’ll seek an election if that alliance succeeds. Although Mr. Johnson will only be able to call the election with the backing of two-thirds of the MPs in the House of Commons. If an election does happen this fall, it will be Britain’s third in 4½ years.

The Chinese government has used increasingly strong language to condemn the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “The end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong and antagonize China,” commentary from the state-run Xinhua News Agency said – words that sound to experts like the state could move to make a Tiananmen-Square-style crackdown if things continue.

The Liberals have dropped former imam Hassan Guillet as a candidate in Montreal after a Jewish group accused him of making anti-Semitic statements.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel says she’s trying to bring forward Alberta’s issues in the federal campaign.

And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared on comedian Hasan Minhaj’s show Patriot Act on the weekend. Among other things, at one point in the interview Mr. Minhaj asks Mr. Trudeau to finish this statement: “Canada will not sell any more weapons to Saudi Arabia period.” Mr. Trudeau replies: “That’s a...that’s a good statement.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the personal unpopularity of the party leaders: “This election is shaping up as a negative referendum. If the question is: Do you want four more years of Mr. Trudeau, then Mr. Scheer is likely to win. If the question is: Do you want Mr. Scheer to become prime minister, then Mr. Trudeau could win a second term.”

Jocelyn Coulon (The Globe and Mail) on Trudeau’s foreign policy: “If the Trudeau government’s concrete actions are compared with its public statements, it is clear that the promise of bringing Canada back has not been fulfilled. On peacekeeping, on Russia, on the Middle East, on foreign aid, the Liberal foreign policy agenda does not represent a break with Conservative policies, but a continuation.”

Shachi Kurl (Ottawa Citizen) on the looming former prime minister: “Conservatives still love Stephen Harper. After all, he won them three elections in a row. Leftists loathe him, and united in a singular mission to defeat Harper’s party in the 2015 campaign. His presence has the potential to whip up both sides of the political divide. Welcome back, Harper.”

Allison Hanes (Montreal Gazette) on Quebec’s religious-symbols ban for teachers: “No new teachers who wear these articles of their faith can be hired. There is a grandfather clause to prevent teachers already in the classroom from losing their jobs. But they are henceforth denied the ability to change positions or promotion up career ladder. They have thus been stigmatized, condemned to a precarious kind of limbo, made to feel as if they are being begrudgingly tolerated.”

Oshoma Momoh (The Globe and Mail) on tech and humanity: “We have to think about the implications of this new world. Machines may free our children and grandchildren to focus on what makes them human, but if the result is less demand for human paid labour, many people will struggle to replace work’s meaning and compensation. We must experiment with universal basic income and other safety nets. How else will we sanely navigate careers through near-continuous training and job changes? These are the questions I’m asking as our children return to school, and I hope I’m not alone. Their futures require our full attention. We can’t lose sight of humanity in our teaching.”

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