Burnaby resident 'disgusted' by parachute candidate Jagmeet Singh

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is seen here after casting his vote at an advance polling station for the Burnaby South byelection in Burnaby, B.C., on Feb. 15, 2019. Singh was an Ontario MPP before becoming a federal party leader. Photo from The Canadian Press.

A British Columbian is sounding off on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh for running in a riding he’s not from.

In a letter to the editor of the Burnaby Now, Peter Tamminga says he’s “disgusted” by the idea of a “parachuted candidate” seeking to win the federal riding of Burnaby South. The Burnaby resident’s opinion comes a week after Singh said he was “disgusted” by the rhetoric from fellow candidates on the resettling of refugees in Canada.

“What I find ‘disgusting’ is that a parachuted candidate who is not a Burnaby citizen dares to criticize Burnaby candidates who live here and are running here (that is what democracy is supposed to look like) and who exercise their right to free speech (or does the NDP want to take that away?),” the Burnaby resident writes in a letter published Monday. 

A parachute candidate refers to a non-resident running for political office. It often involves a well-known figure attempting to capture a seat in a riding where favourable conditions usually exist for the candidate.

This is not an uncommon practice in Canadian politics. During the 2018 Ontario election, Caroline Mulroney was accused of being a parachute candidate for the Progressive Conservatives in a riding north of Toronto. Other examples have existed for years.

Tamminga states that he opposes any party bringing in candidates from outside the area to run for political office in a particular riding.

“In my opinion, if a party leader does not get elected in his local riding, the party should choose another leader from those that have been elected. After all, that would be the will of the people,” the resident says. 

“For the NDP supporters in Burnaby who will vote, you really need to ask whether parachuting a candidate is a truly democratic process. I personally find this process a lot more ‘disgusting’ than local candidates expressing their right-given opinions.”

Singh was born in Toronto and spent much of his childhood in Windsor, Ont. In 2011, he ran successfully for the Ontario NDP in a Brampton riding, located northwest of Toronto. The NDP leader didn’t comment on the story on his Twitter account, but he did say this last week:

Our team is working hard to ensure the people of Burnaby have a voice in Ottawa that will fight for the solutions they need now.”

The other candidates running in Burnaby South are Richard Lee (Liberals), Jay Shin (Conservatives), Laura-Lynn Thompson (People’s Party of Canada), Terry Grimwood (independent), and Valentine Wu (independent).

The Burnaby South byelection in one of three scheduled to take place on Feb. 25. The others will be held in Montreal’s Outremont and the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe. Advance voting took place from Feb. 15 to 18 in these ridings.