Sunny skies were overhead as the leader of the New Democratic Party’s bus rolled into Lake Ontario Park to a chorus of “NDP! NDP! NDP!” on Thursday, Sep 16, 2021, just five minutes later than expected at 4:20 pm. Jagmeet Singh made the campaign stop in Kingston in support of Kingston and the Islands’ NDP candidate, Vic Sahai.
A hopeful, party atmosphere was created for the few hundred supporters, as campaign staff blasted Bunji Garlin’s Soca hit ‘Differentology: Ready for the Road,’ and Singh grabbed the mic, encouraging the crowd, “You know what we’re gonna do? I want you to jump with me. And if you can’t jump, do punches above your head, and if you can’t do arm punches, shake your head, whatever you want to do!”
With dancing and chants of “We’re ready!” finished, Singh thanked the crowd.
“All this energy gives me so much inspiration because I know you all believe that, if we take care of each other, if we look after one or another, together we all rise,” he said enthusiastically.
The visit wasn’t all fun and games, though. Singh quickly turned the speech to his opponents, first telling the crowd, “Mr. Trudeau was asked today about what’s going on [in] Alberta. Alberta is going through a really tough time. So, you know our thoughts are with them. We’re worried about them and we care about them. The people there are going through the fourth wave, which is hitting really hard.”
“Now, obviously, the Premier there, the Conservative there, Mr. Kenney, is horrible. He’s been a failure” Singh continued to jeers of agreement from the crowd. “So, he (Trudeau) was asked about what’s going on, and about what he should be doing. And he said, ‘Well it’s not my job. It’s not my job to help out people in Alberta.’ He said it’s not his job to interfere. And I figure if he doesn’t think it his job, maybe we should replace him with someone who thinks it is his job.”
In the middle of this jibe, Singh was interrupted by a touch from his wife, who gently turned him in a direction of the press pool camera, “Oh my bad, my bad. Thank you very much,” he said to her.
Back to the crowd, he pointed out laughingly, “Literally, Gurkiran is telling me what to do right now: she’s pointing me in the right direction. She always does,” and then to her, “Thank you for putting me in the right direction.” Sidu, who is expecting the couple’s first child near the end of the year, then received her own cheers from the crowd.
“It is the job of a Prime Minister to step up and help out, not look for excuses,” Singh continued. “If I see people who are struggling and hurting, I’m going to find a way to help them. That’s what a leader does. That’s what the New Democrats do. And, that’s what we’re going to do together.
“And so we believe very strongly that we can invest in a health care system that’s going to take care of people from head to toe. That means mental health services, that means medication coverage, that means dental care.”
“We believe that we’re up against a serious crisis, not just the crisis of the pandemic, but we’re up against a climate crisis. And we’ve got to fight this crisis with every single thing we have; we got to invest in green jobs, reduce emissions, electrify transportation, invest in renewable energy. This is the fight of our generation and New Democrats are ready to fight it,” he continued.
“We want to invest in making sure people have a home that they can afford. I hear from so many people, especially young people that are doing everything they can. They’re pursuing education, they’re finding a good job, they’re doing everything right, and they still feel like they can’t get ahead. They say, ‘we can’t find a home that’s in our budget, we can’t even imagine owning a place. Forget owning a place, we can’t even find a place that’s affordable to rent.’”
“It’s so hard,” Singh empathized, “And it shouldn’t be this way, it shouldn’t be this way. We’re prepared to take on the big money and housing so that you’re not competing with multi-billion-dollar corporations when you’re buying your first home. We’re gonna take on that big money and make sure we invest in homes that are affordable, cooperatives, not-for-profit housing.”
“The question comes up we talk about how we invest in people, how we support people how we invest in our healthcare, how we fight the climate crisis, how we invest in tackling the housing crisis, people always ask well how are we going to pay for these things,” explained Singh.
Here he took on his opponents again, using the Prime Minister’s own words, “Mr. Trudeau was asked about this the other day and he said, ‘Oh, you know we, can’t go after [them]. We can’t go after the super-wealthy with unlimited zeal.’”
But of the NDP Singh explained, “We’ve got to get rid of profit. We’ve got to get rid of greed. Mr. Trudeau defended those for-profit institutions and voted against getting the greed and profit out of long-term care, he teamed up with Mr. O’Toole, so not surprising.”
“He said we can’t go after the billionaires with unlimited zeal,” he repeated, “But we believe we can. We believe we must. We believe we need to go after the super-wealthy, the Amazons, the billionaires, with unlimited zeal.”
The New Democratic leader then turned his attention to the most pressing matter at hand with the federal election taking place just three four days later.
“We want to send a message to Canadians out there,” Singh told his supporters, “If you believe that better is possible — and I believe it in my heart, I know that better is possible, I know we can take better care of each other… We can invest in each other by tackling the housing crisis, we can invest in health care… find solutions for the climate crisis — we can do this, but to do it, we’ve got to get people out to vote.”
“So for everyone out there, make a plan to vote… Imagine if each one of you got three more of your friends or your family, you called up your best buddies, you called up your mom, your dad, you called up your uncle, your auntie, whoever. You Snapchat folks, DM folks, whatever you do, let them know. If you ask three more people to get out to vote, make a plan this Monday, imagine the movement we can build,” he implored, urging people to visit HowYouVote.ca.
“So, I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do with unlimited zeal,” Singh finished, reiterating the familiar campaign phrase, “We’re gonna vote with unlimited zeal. We’re gonna tax the billionaires with unlimited zeal.”
The event was well attended with about 250 in the crowd of happy supporters. Attendance numbers were limited due to pandemic restrictions. Attendees had to sign up online, and hundreds more were discouraged by the campaign team, in order to keep organized COVID-19 precautions in place.
The perimeter of the area was laid out with 12 people taking contact tracing information, and tables had hand sanitizer, masks, and big signs asking people to put on their masks and social distance
“I’ve been told that, of the dozens and dozens of campaign stops across the country that members of the national media and team have attended, this was one of the most responsibl- organized in terms of COVID precautions in a large, outdoor venue. We chose the space for this reason,” explained Andrew McCann, manager of NDP candidate Vic Sahai’s campaign.