Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will now be known as Member of Parliament Jagmeet Singh after winning the hard-fought, and at times ugly, Burnaby South byelection on Monday night.
Will he one day be known as Prime Minister Singh after this fall’s federal election?
Singh got the first part out of the way, winning the byelection with 8,800 votes, or 39 per cent of the vote.
Liberal candidate Richard Lee (who replaced candidate Karen Wang partway through the campaign) came second with 5,930 votes, or 26 per cent of the vote.
Conservative candidate Jay Shin placed third with 5,133 votes, or about 22.5 per cent of the vote.
People’s Party of Canada candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson did better than some people expected with 2,420, about 10.6 per cent of the vote.
Independents Terry Grimwood had 1.1 per cent of the vote and Valentine Wu 0.7 per cent.
Overall voter turnout was just 30 per cent.
Singh took the stage and thanked the other candidates for their contribution to the democratic process. He also thanked the party’s volunteers and supporters.
“I am humbled by your belief in me,” he said.
“I will be your champion,” Singh also said. "I will take each and every one of you to Ottawa. I will fight for you in the House of Commons.”
Singh, the first visible minority leader of a major federal party, said that when he was growing up, he never imagined seeing someone who looked like him running to be the prime minister of Canada.
“We just showed a lot of kids out there that yes we can,” he said, borrowing a slogan from former U.S. President Barack Obama.
The campaign was marred by shouting matches at campaign debates over such issues as immigration and refugees. There was also plenty of questionable campaign material distributed by some candidates during the past few weeks.
Before results rolled in, Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan said she was confident Singh would serve Burnaby South well and boost the party's fortunes.
“Jagmeet has made a decision,” Kwan told the NOW. “He’s chosen Burnaby South as his home. He's moved his family here. Absolutely, I believe he can represent the people of Burnaby South and bring their issues forward. He's been out in those doorsteps every single night, talking to people about what matters to them, what's concerning to them and to ensure that there voice is going to be heard.”
Kwan continued: “I've been out door-knocking with Jagmeet in the rain, in the sun, in the snow and so I'm very optimistic about tonight and I'm super, super excited to have Jagmeet in the House of Commons with the NDP caucus.”
Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley said he was excited to the city represented by a party leader. He said he hopes Singh can help bring much-needed federal housing funds to Burnaby.
The night also saw the nascent People’s Party of Canada receive approximately 11 per cent of the vote. The local candidate, Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, repeatedly brought up the murder of Burnaby teen Marrisa Shen during the election as a reason to screen refugees more stringently.
(The man accused in the murder is a Syrian refugee who has yet to have his charges tested in court.)
Hurley said he thinks the PPC tapped into “fear and misunderstanding in the community.”
- With additional reporting by Kelvin Gawley