After months of campaigning, selling memberships, raising money, soliciting endorsements and holding debates across the country, the NDP leadership race is finally nearing its end.
The four candidates — Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Jagmeet Singh — took part Sunday in what the party called a Leadership Showcase. Each contender had 22 minutes to make a presentation to a room full of New Democrats in Hamilton and the event was livestreamed for members to watch across the country.
The pressure was on for the candidates as they tried to convince members they are the best choice to rebuild the party after its crushing defeat in the 2015 election.
Quebec MP Caron was the first to make his case for why he should lead the party. After introductory speeches from supporters he spent a portion of his speech talking about the need for the NDP to regain its strength in his home province, saying that is key to success in the next election.
Caron’s strategy to win Quebec
“When we win in Quebec, we win seats all across the country because then, we become a real progressive alternative everywhere in Canada,” said Caron.
He also addressed the comments made by fellow Quebec MP Pierre Nantel on Saturday when Nantel said he didn’t think Singh, a Sikh, could connect effectively with Quebec voters because he wears a turban.
Caron, who has Nantel’s support in the race, rejected that notion.
“Jagmeet, you have a place in our party and you have a place in my Quebec,” he said.
Caron said to win the 2019 election the NDP needs focus, not only on Quebec, but also on offering a detailed and progressive agenda to Canadians and also on “winning back progressives by providing a clear contrast to Trudeau’s Liberals: substance over flashy socks, and authenticity over empty slogans.”
Caron pitched himself as the leader who can grow support in Quebec and build bridges among Canada’s communities.
He took aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying he broke his promise to Canadians on electoral reform. Caron promised a NDP government would make that its number one priority.
Angus’s plan to reconnect with grassroots
Next up was northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus. He’s emphasized throughout his campaign that the party needs to reconnect with its grassroots.
In his showcase, he portrayed himself as a fighter who will take on Trudeau in the House of Commons.
He promised to be a partner and ally for Indigenous communities and fight for…