OTTAWA — Question-and-answer sessions with reporters are nothing new on the campaign trail — but Jagmeet Singh’s Punjabi exchange today makes clear the growing influence of Canada’s South Asian community in key battleground ridings.
On the first full day of campaigning, the NDP leader was in Brampton making an announcement about his party’s focus on health care, promising to partially fund the construction of a new hospital in the area.
He answered in kind when a journalist asked him in Punjabi why voters in the city should vote for the NDP over the Liberals. When he was done, he translated his answer for the rest of the assembled media.
Data from the 2016 census show that other than English, Punjabi is the most commonly spoken language at home in all five of Brampton’s ridings.
South Asian communities are also influential in other key areas, like B.C.’s Lower Mainland and Edmonton, where the Liberals are attempting to retain some of their only seats in Alberta.
Singh, a turbaned Sikh, is the first non-Caucasian to lead a federal party in Canada — a central issue in Quebec, where that province’s proposed secularism law would make it impossible for him to work as a public servant.
The Canadian Press