NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Singh rejects more extreme NDP policy resolutions, like scrapping military

A resolution from the NDP’s Spadina-Fort York riding association commits to ‘phasing out’ the Canadian Armed Forces

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is standing by several controversial proposals from rank-and-file party members while rejecting more extreme ones — including a call to abolish the military — ahead of this weekend’s policy convention.

Singh’s tightrope walk has him hovering between the party’s grassroots and the broader Canadian public, with an eye to pleasing enough of both to boost New Democrats above their fourth-place ranking in the House of Commons in a potential election this year.

A resolution from the NDP’s Spadina-Fort York riding association commits to “phasing out” the Canadian Armed Forces and retraining service members into civil service roles.

“I don’t agree,” Singh said at a virtual press conference Wednesday.

He said the military provided critical support at long-term care homes during the COVID-19 outbreaks last year, and he has called for further deployment to assist in the vaccine rollout.

Singh declined to take a stance on potential policy planks that demand the removal of all statues of Sir John A. Macdonald, and the addition of Indigenous symbols to the Canadian flag. But he sympathized with the ideas behind them.

“We’ve got to be very aware of the message certain monuments and statues send in public spaces, and be open to moving with the times,” Singh said.

If the legacies symbolized by a particular figure, image or building name are unwelcoming or disrespectful of “Indigenous persons and diversity,” they may need to be relocated, redesigned or retitled, he said.

“There always will be a place for remembering our history, and sometimes that place maybe is best served in a museum or in history books, and not always in public places.”

Macdonald was Canada’s first prime minister but his role in establishing colonial systems, including Indian residential schools, has led to calls for multiple statues across the country to come down.

Singh also said he backs a proposed resolution condemning Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and hijabs for employees of the state deemed to be in positions of authority, including police officers and teachers.

His stance comes despite the law remaining widely popular in a province where the NDP hopes to make electoral gains beyond the one seat it currently holds there.

Singh called the law “discriminatory,” particularly against women, but acknowledged the importance of separating church and state.

NDP members from across the country have cast their ballots on more than 400 proposed resolutions to determine which will make the short list of 70 for delegates to vote on at the party’s first policy convention since the 2019 federal election, running Friday through Sunday.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Hesco baskets were first used outside the Cache Creek fire hall in 2020 (pictured), and have once again been put in place as a pre-emptive measure to safeguard the hall against possible flooding. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Cache Creek taking pre-emptive measures to prevent flooding

Sand and sandbags will soon be available for all residents who need them

Clinton council has approved a request to allow limited youth sports activity at Reg Conn Park and Elliott Park. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Clinton council okays use of playing fields for youth sports

Clinton Minor Sports Association gets green light for use of Reg Conn and Elliott Parks

The proposed site of the new Loon lake fire hall, on the site of the former provincial park. (Photo credit: TNRD)
Construction of new Loon Lake fire hall delayed because of cost

Lowest tender more than double the estimated cost of the project

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
B.C. red dresses symbolizing missing, murdered Indigenous women vandalized a 2nd time

Nelson’s REDress Project was vandalized along with an outdoor installation on Vancouver Island

A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine for injection at the Victoria Clipper Terminal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to bring back normal life by fall: report

Only 51% of the population will be protected under B.C.’s current rollout, SFU professors say more vaccinations are needed to achieve herd immunity

Letisha Reimer, 13, was killed Nov. 1, 2016 in a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
UPDATED: Second-degree murder conviction stands for Abbotsford school killer

Judge finds that Gabriel Klein is criminally responsible for death of Letisha Reimer

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Most Read