NDP MPs in mutinous mood over Jagmeet Singh’s uninspired leadership

There is a growing consensus among members of caucus that the party’s leader, Jagmeet Singh, will have to step down if he fails to win the byelection in Burnaby South, likely to be called early next year.

The fear among party veterans is that the Trudeau government will hold off on calling a vote until early spring, just in case Singh loses. With a general election scheduled for October, the Liberals are said to be hoping the tight time-frame would dissuade disgruntled New Democrats from turfing their preferred election opponent.

But the chatter among some New Democrats is that, if the Ontario Progressive Conservatives can throw their leader overboard four months before a general election and still win, why can’t they? (Patrick Brown was forced to step down in late January, Ford was elected leader in early March and Ontario Premier in June).

That the subject is even being discussed is evidence of how demoralized the NDP are right now. Financial results released this week for 2017 show the party at its lowest ebb in 16 years. A general election will cost $40 million — $20 million for the central campaign, $20 million for the ridings — and this is not a party that is raising anywhere near enough to fight a competitive campaign.

The party’s financial statement revealed negative net assets of $3.1 million. That doesn’t include the Jack Layton Building in downtown Ottawa, which the New Democrats could presumably re-mortgage to raise funds for a campaign. But it can only do that once.

The problem is (or was in 2017) more money going out than coming in; revenues were $5.9 million, versus expenses of $7.2 million. There is next to no money in the bank and the loss of the publicly funded per-vote subsidy, which used to bring in nearly $5 million a year, is still keenly felt.

Singh points to a slight uptick in fundraising in the first two quarters of this year but the party raised $9 million less than the Liberals last year and $14 million less than the Conservatives.

The reasons are obvious. While the Liberals and Conservatives have been vying for primacy in the opinion polls, the NDP has been becalmed at around 15 per cent support — almost exactly where they were when Singh was elected leader in October. He is judged by just 7 per cent of Canadians to be their preferred prime minister, according to this week’s Nanos Research tracker poll, leaving him statistically tied with the Green Party’s Elizabeth May.

In the wake of disastrous byelection results in Quebec, Singh admitted, “It’s clear we’re not penetrating, we’re not connecting with people.”

There is a very real prospect the NDP could be wiped out in a province where it held 58 of 75 seats after the Orange Crush election of 2011.

Veteran MPs — Linda Duncan, Irene Mathyssen, David Christopherson, Hélène Laverdière and Romeo Saganash — have seen where this is heading and decided not to run next year. They will follow Kennedy Stewart, the Burnaby South MP who is set to resign from his seat on September 14th in hopes of being Vancouver’s next mayor. Justin Trudeau has six months from that date to call a byelection, and senior Liberals suggest the vote will be held in the new year to minimize the prospect of Singh being usurped if he loses

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