NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hopes to lure progressive voters away from the ruling Liberals by building on his growing popularity and his promise to tax the ultrarich to help pay for everything from national pharmacare to clean drinking water on Indigenous reserves.
Mr. Singh told reporters Sunday that progressive voters need to be aware just how the NDP used the minority Parliament to push the Liberal government to boost benefits to Canadians hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was the New Democrats that delivered the help people needed,” he said. “Millions of people kept their jobs because we were there to fight for an increased wage subsidy. We brought in paid sick leave that had never existed at the federal level.”
With public opinion polls showing Mr. Singh with high personal ratings and a fully funded campaign, New Democrats are confident they can win more seats in the Sept. 20 election and keep the Liberals to a minority government.
The NDP held 24 seats in the House of Commons at dissolution, down from its record of 103 in 2011 under Jack Layton when the party formed the Official Opposition. In 2019, Mr. Singh’s first campaign as Leader, the NDP lost 15 seats. The Liberals had 155 seats at dissolution.
The NDP have 20.7-per-cent ballot support nationally, which could translate into a gain of up to half a dozen seats or more if the party’s polling numbers continue to rise during the campaign. This could block the Liberals from regaining their majority.
“If they can get above 25 per cent, they could hit a tipping point where they could make a breakthrough of 20 more seats,” pollster Nik Nanos said.
“Jagmeet Singh and the New Democratic Party are entering this campaign with momentum,” added Brad Lavigne, a former NDP campaign director for Mr. Layton, who took the party from third place to Official Opposition in 2011. “Other parties, their leaders will be an anchor … whereas Mr. Singh’s leadership will be an asset.”
If Mr. Singh wants to increase seats during this campaign, New Democrats say the party needs to harness the Leader’s popularity to engage voters, particularly those in the younger demographic, 18 to 35.
Ed Broadbent, former NDP leader and chair of the Broadbent Institute, said he’s feeling positive about the party’s chances.
“Canadians have seen the value of Jagmeet and the NDP,” he said in an interview, adding that Mr. Singh has brought a new energy to the party, which is enhanced by now having a track record for people to assess. “He came into federal politics with great enthusiasm, but lacked experience,” he said. Now, “he’s shown he’s mastered what it takes to be in the House of Commons.”
Mr. Broadbent said that presenting a simple message to Canadians will be key for the party’s success and ability to connect with voters. He referenced Mr. Singh’s press conference last Thursday in Newfoundland, where he summed up the NDP commitments as taxing the ultrawealthy to pay for programs Canadians need.
Political strategist and former Layton adviser Kathleen Monk also said that the party needs to harness Mr. Singh’s popularity with younger voters, which could help them increase their influence. Mr. Singh has made significant efforts to reach young Canadians on social-media platforms such as TikTok, and the party has a twofold strategy of working to get young voters excited about Mr. Singh, as well as encouraging them to get out to the polls.
Ms. Monk also said that Mr. Singh’s record is key to the party’s success this time around. “His goal has got to be to demonstrate to Canadians how New Democrats have been so valuable in this minority Parliament,” she said, adding that many people will see them as having influenced many of the policies that helped people during the pandemic.
But Mr. Nanos warned that the challenge for the NDP is to prevent progressive voters from returning to the Liberal fold if the Conservatives become competitive.
Anne McGrath, the NDP’s national director, recently told The Globe and Mail that the party will spend more on just advertising this time around than it did on the entire 2019 campaign.
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