Jagmeet Singh '05, Canada's Newest Political Star, Lifts His Party's Hopes

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OTTAWA — While Canada has long promoted multiculturalism, it took until this week for a major Canadian political party to choose a leader — Jagmeet Singh — who was not a white man or woman.

But Mr. Singh’s decisive win in the race to be the leader of the New Democratic Party, the furthest to the left of Canada’s mainstream parties, is far more than a symbolic victory for minority groups in the country.

Mr. Singh, 38, whose parents immigrated from India, shares many of the personal traits that made Prime Minister Justin Trudeau such an appealing candidate and helped propel him to power in 2015. The New Democrats, who so far have only ever achieved power at the provincial level, are hoping that Mr. Singh’s personal charisma, ethnic background and history as a social advocate may finally provide a formula that can lift the party to power at the federal level.

“Canadians deserve a government that understands the struggles that people are facing right now,” Mr. Singh said on Sunday afternoon in Toronto, after the announcement of his victory. “It takes an act of love to realize we are all in this together, and an act of courage to demand better, to dream bigger and to fight for a more inclusive and just world.”

Mr. Singh’s election underscores the already prominent role that Sikhs, who make up about 2 percent of Canada’s population, play in Canadian politics.