Meet The First Person Of Color To Lead A Major Political Party In Canada

Jagmeet Singh will run for prime minister in 2019.

On Sunday, Jagmeet Singh made history in Canada. The Toronto lawyer, who is a member of Ontario's provincial legislature, was voted in as the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP). He is the first leader of a major political party in Canada's history who is also a person of color.

According to the New York Times, Singh won 53.6 of party members' votes, defeating three other candidates — an impressive victory, considering he has no federal policy experience and was "relatively late" in entering the race. 

Singh will go on to run for prime minister in 2019. Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose Liberal Party will go up against Singh in the federal election, congratulated the 38-year-old on Twitter, writing, "I look forward to speaking soon and working together for Canadians."

Singh is Sikh, and the son of Indian immigrants. According to Vice, in 2011 he became the first member of Ontario legislature to wear a turban. Singh told the National Post that he hopes to inspire young leaders "who didn't see themselves reflected in government," adding, "I'm only here today because people before me have broken barriers,"

NDP national director Robert Fox, meanwhile, told the Post, "There are so many Canadians who sort of feel that they've been on the outside looking in, and he has kicked the door open and said, 'Come on in.'"

According to the Times, Singh used his victory speech to call attention to issues such as pay inequality, climate change, and police reform: "To make progress on these issues, to truly make Canadians' lives better, we owe it to Canadians to form government."

Singh has spoken openly about issues of race, including his own experience with racial profiling. He recently told Vice that he would get pulled over by police when he drove his father's car, and would routinely be asked to show ID in "street checks."

The newly elected party leader also gained attention for his calm response to a woman's Islamophobic rant at a campaign event last month. "We don't want to be intimidated by hate," he said in the viral video. "Let's show people how we would treat someone with love."

Singh later added in a statement on social media that he chose not to correct the woman's assumption about his religion because "it suggests their hate would be OK if I was Muslim. We all know it's not."

If the NDP wins the 2019 federal election, Singh could be Canada's first non-White prime minister.

(H/T: Bustle)

Cover image via DayOwl / Shutterstock.com.

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