BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says its time to focus on what matters in the Burnaby-South by-election, now that his Liberal rival Karen Wang stepped down after posting racially-charged comments online.
Singh was campaigning in Metrotown on Wednesday, the same day Karen Wang bowed out of the race. Wang reportedly reached out to would-be supporters on WeChat claiming she’s the only Chinese candidate and pointing out Singh’s heritage is Indian.
“To be honest with you, I did not expect race to be a concern. This is one of the most diverse communities in Canada, and one of the things we are so happy to see is that people really celebrate that,” he says. “If you grow up in a community like Burnaby, and many communities across Canada, people are proud of the fact that they have friends from different communities, that they get to enjoy the richness of the diversity of this land, of this community, and that’s something people are proud of.
“I never expected that, in any way, to be a weakness. I always consider that to be a strength and something we’re all proud of.”
Singh says there’s no place in Canadian politics for racism, suggesting that Canada doesn’t want to follow the trend of current politics in the United States.
“I am concerned with divisive politics. I am concerned with politics that divide communities, that pit one against another,” he says. “I feel like there’s too much of that.”
.@theJagmeetSingh says Karen Wang’s resignation was ‘the right thing to do’ and no place for racism in #Cdnpoli. As for any suggestion #Liberals want him to stay on as #NDP leader, he says they know New Democrats more of a threat than Conservatives in #Ottawa. Details @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/7VXB8ESBW2
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) January 17, 2019
He says he hasn’t spoken to Wang directly yet, but he has seen her comments and accepts her apology.
“I think that she did the right thing and she responded in a way that was very respectful, and I appreciate that,” he says.
He adds that he’s confident he will do well in the riding because of his commitments to issues, like affordable housing and health care, and hopes to shift the focus of his campaign to those issues.
The Liberals have not said yet if they plan to run another candidate, but they have until Feb. 4 to file the paperwork.
Pundits suggest Liberals could want Singh to win riding
When asked about speculation by some pundits that Liberals could want him to win because they don’t see him as a strong competitor in the federal election, Singh responded that the Liberals are afraid of how he would challenge them in parliament.
“I don’t subscribe to that at all. I don’t believe in that suggestion,” he says. “I know that Liberals are afraid of the questions that we’re going to ask, because we know Conservatives aren’t going to stand up in the house and demand action on the housing crisis.”
Conservatives rejected Wang as a candidate
Members of the Conservative Party of Canada are saying Wang sought a nomination from their party for the upcoming election, but she was denied.
MP Michelle Remple said this during a press conference Wednesday after it was announced that Wang had stepped down.
Remple didn’t say, however, why Wang was not permitted to run for the party.
She was joined at the press conference by Conservative candidate Jay Shin, who will be taking on Singh in the upcoming election.
The by-election will be held on Feb. 25, 2019.