Smarmy Justin, climate comatose Scheer, and the possible underestimation of Jagmeet Singh

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      These days, the leader of the federal NDP is all over the media.

      Jagmeet Singh benefited from a blizzard of publicity when the federal Liberal candidate in Burnaby South, Karen Wang, withdrew and then wanted to get back into the by-election campaign.

      Singh took the high road, emphasizing that he wasn't personally offended by her comment on Chinese social media that he is of Indian ancestry.

      He talked about the importance of bringing people together, regardless of their racial backgrounds.

      And he refused to get dragged into discussions about whether members of his party want him out as leader.

      In a word, Singh came across as authentic.

      That counts for a lot in politics.

      He's in an excellent position to win the Burnaby South by-election.

      In contrast, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared inauthentic as he tried to sugar-coat Jody Wilson-Raybould's demotion from minister of justice to minister of veterans affairs.

      Trudeau also sounds inauthentic when he talks about fighting climate change while supporting liquefied-natural-gas projects and pipelines.

      And he's increasingly looking inauthentic on one of his signature issues—promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

      Before the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau posed for a photo with Jody Wilson-Raybould on the shoreline to reflect how "B.C. was in his blood".
      Liberal 2015 platform screen shot

      In fact, Trudeau can seem downright smarmy when he stands at a podium virtue-signalling to progressives that he's one of them when he's actually pursuing the objectives of Big Oil.

      Then there's Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who's opposed to a carbon tax and who looks like he's denying the magnitude of the climate crisis.

      Scheer is only 39 years old, which makes his position even more befuddling.

      As a millennial and as a father of five, Scheer is going to live with the consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions, yet it's not a big priority for him politically. He's more worried about an unenforceable global compact on immigration.

      Andrew Scheer (right) talks more about immigration than the climate, in part because his former Conservative leadership rival, Max Bernier (left), launched a new party that's concerned about "too much diversity".

      Shades of 2015?

      Meanwhile, Green Leader Elizabeth May is the people's champ when it comes to the climate. But she's woefully lacking the financial resources and candidates to win power.

      All of this is reminiscent of the 2015 federal election when many thought that either the NDP's Tom Mulcair or Stephen Harper was going to be prime minister.

      In a remarkable plot twist, Justin Trudeau's Liberals made an astonishing charge, coming from third place to win a majority.

      A major reason was Trudeau's authenticity and his decision to outflank the NDP on the left on fiscal and tax policies.

      But after more than three years in power, Canadians are learning that while Trudeau talks a good game on the climate and Indigenous issues, he doesn't always deliver.

      One poll has his personal approval rating at the same level as Stephen Harper's a year before the 2015 election.

      It's clear that the public isn't entirely satisfied with Trudeau. And many urban and suburban voters will never vote for Scheer's Conservatives.

      It's not out of the question that a growing number of Canadians might start to look upon Singh as the least worst of the three major leaders.

      Today, he'll speak at the nomination meetings of two experienced NDP politicians: Svend Robinson and Don Davies.

      The narrative will start to change from rats leaving the sinking NDP ship to established NDP veterans sticking around in the hopes of having influence on a minority government.

      This will be especially true if NDP MP Murray Rankin chooses to seek reelection in Victoria.

      All of this offers the prospect of generating momentum for Singh's NDP.

      Veteran NDP MP Don Davies is running for a fourth time in Vancouver Kingsway, which could help change the narrative around Jagmeet Singh's leadership.

      NDP has compelling marketing messages

      I can see the political ads to come: vote for NDP candidates to force Trudeau to keep his promises next time around.

      Vote NDP to keep the Liberals accountable on the environment and Indigenous issues.

      Don't give the untrustworthy Trudeau another blank cheque in 2019.

      Vote NDP for true cannabis amnesty.

      Vote NDP for humane physician-assisted dying legislation.

      Vote NDP to truly end the war on drugs, treat addiction as a health issue, and save the lives of sick Canadians.

      Vote NDP so people will never have to choose between prescription drugs and keeping food in the cupboard.

      Vote NDP for a national housing plan with teeth.

      These are compelling political messages for progressive voters.

      In the eyes of some, Singh is already coming across as more trustworthy than Trudeau or Scheer.

      This is not something you're hearing nowadays from the grizzled, cynical veterans in the national news media or from the pollsters who serve as Canada's political oracles. They're too busy deriding Singh as not being ready for prime time.

      Then again, they said the same thing about Trudeau when his party was in third place in 2015.

      Before the writ was dropped that year, the pundits didn't foresee the Liberals accelerating down the back stretch and pulling ahead of their opponents.

      Keep in mind that at this stage, the NDP appears very unlikely to win a national election with Singh as leader.

      But there are grounds to believe that he will wield tremendous influence should the Liberals or Conservatives be held to a minority of seats in Parliament.

      Singh's best days in politics may still be ahead of him.