NDP’s Singh says his caucus is united, after backlash to punishment of MP

The 39-year-old former Ontario provincial politician was in B.C. this week, touring Burnaby

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his caucus is united behind him, despite recent discord over his decision to punish a veteran member of Parliament.

After a backlash, Singh reversed his decision to oust Hamilton Centre MP David Christopherson from his role as vice chair of the procedure and House affairs committee.

“We’re New Democrats. People are going to have different opinions. It’s not a big deal,” Singh said Thursday after touring a steel fabrication company in Burnaby, B.C.

“Many New Democrats are activists. They are used to speaking truth to power. I’m not so arrogant as a leader to believe that once I make a decision, that’s it.”

Singh dumped Christopherson from his position last week after the MP voted against the New Democrats on a Conservative motion. The motion — defeated by Liberal and NDP members — condemned the Liberal government’s new policy requiring groups that apply for funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program to affirm their respect for abortion rights.

Ontario MP and former leadership rival Charlie Angus publicly chastised Singh for the decision and the leader reinstated Christopherson this week.

Singh insisted on Thursday that he had the full support of his 44-member caucus. Unlike “other leaders,” he said, he doesn’t shout members of his caucus down or tell them to “shut up” and toe the party line.

“We’ve got a strong caucus. It’s a united caucus,” he said. “My style is to listen to folks and to hear them out. I think that’s what Canadians want.”

The 39-year-old former Ontario provincial politician still does not hold a seat in the House of Commons after winning the federal leadership in October. He said he’s “comfortable” where he is.

“If an opportunity does present itself, I’ll still keep an open mind to that. But right now, I’m comfortable with the fact that I’ll spend this time touring the country and meeting folks and hearing their concerns.”

Before speaking with reporters, Singh toured architectural steel manufacturer George Third & Son. He said he wanted to meet with workers who stood to be affected by potential U.S. tariffs.

“We’ve got a strong and vibrant industry … that needs to be protected.”

The Canadian Press

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