The four candidates running for the federal NDP leadership will take to a stage in Hamilton on Sunday afternoon and make one final appeal to party members for their votes.
The Leadership Showcase coincides with the NDP’s caucus meetings where MPs are talking about strategies and priority issues for the fall session in Parliament. But they are also focused on who is the best choice to replace Tom Mulcair — Ontario MP Charlie Angus, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, Quebec MP Guy Caron or, newcomer to the federal scene, Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh.
Singh — the perceived front-runner — had to play defence on Saturday when some competitors raised the fact that he doesn’t have a seat in the House of Commons, and one Quebec MP raised doubts about his ability to connect to voters in that province because he wears religious symbols. Singh, who is Sikh, wears a turban and kirpan, a small sword worn on a strap or belt.
Pierre Nantel told Radio-Canada that while Singh, 38, is charismatic, Quebecers don’t want to see their leaders wearing visibly religious symbols.
Singh disagreed with Nantel’s assessment of Quebec voters and said they have a long history of being open-minded and progressive and that he’s confident in his ability to “reach out to people on the issues that matter.”
He said he’s shown during his campaign that he has a deep respect for Quebec and will continue to demonstrate that. He’s never asked people to accept the way he looks, Singh said.
“People in Quebec accept that I have the values and the beliefs — the social democratic and progressive beliefs — that will benefit Quebec,” said Singh, who was at the Hamilton Convention Centre Saturday evening doing interviews and rehearsing Sunday’s speech.
Each leadership hopeful will make a 22-minute presentation during which they will lay out their vision for the party and make the case for why they are the best person to lead it. The presentations are expected to include videos, music, as well as family members and supporters vouching for the candidate.
About 124,600 NDP members are eligible to vote and will cast their ranked ballots over the next two weeks online and by mail. The results will be revealed on Oct.1, and if no one receives a majority of the votes the rounds will continue. Members rank their picks in order of preference.
CBC News will have special coverage of the NDP leadership showcase on Sunday, including livestreaming…