Surrey: Several female New Democrat activists applauded Jagmeet Singh on Tuesday for blocking MP Erin Weir from running in the next election but the NDP leader still faces an uphill battle as he tries to keep the NDP in the game heading towards next year’s federal election.
The letter of support for Singh was posted on Facebook as Singh prepared to meet with his caucus in Surrey. It is signed by a group of women including former candidates and high-level organizers who said Singh’s decision to bar Weir from running showed he understands his “legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace.”
“He has taken that principled stand despite the political risk,” it said. “That’s the kind of leadership we need in 2018.”
Their letter of support contradicts a letter from 67 former New Democrat MPs and MLAs from Saskatchewan who wrote to NDP members of Parliament last week accusing Singh of denying Weir due process.
Singh suspended the Regina MP from caucus last February after fellow caucus member Christine Moore reported hearing allegations about Weir’s conduct. After an independent investigation upheld several complaints of harassment against Weir, Singh made the suspension permanent in May.
Last week he informed Weir he would not reconsider that decision.
The Weir controversy is not the only thorny issue plaguing the leader a year into his job.
NDP loyalists are concerned about the party’s lacklustre fundraising results and Singh’s effectiveness as leader.
Karl Belanger, a former party national director, said Tuesday that Singh needs to find a way to turn things around and create a political narrative ahead of 2019 because the buck stops with the leader.
“The conditions set by the party before his arrival are not ideal,” Belanger said. “He’s the leader now, he’s going to pick up the ball and run with it.”
The party will suffer if it is not able to pull in more fundraising dollars, he added.
“The consequence will be the party will not be competitive and will not be seen as competitive because they won’t be able to match, dollar for dollar, the major parties,” he said.
“It reduces your capacity to advertise, it reduces your ability to do events across the country and to hire staff and organizers on the ground.”
Former NDP press secretary Farouk Karim agrees the last year with Singh at the helm has been rocky “to say the least.”
“What’s important right now for the leader is to put forward a strategic plan and vision that gets buy in from the whole party towards the 2019 election,” he said.
“A year before the election can seem long but it’s not. We are entering the final sprint.”