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

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, development agent for cannabis supplier Seed and Stone’s, holds products from the new Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

Steven Manchur, who lives near the proposed site of supportive housing in Central Saanich on Prosser Road, said the province has misinformed the public about the site. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Central Saanich residents protest supportive housing project

BC Housing rejects claim that project will lead to more crime

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

A convicted sex offender, whose crimes included offences against children, was arrested at Gonzales Beach after the man was spotted by an off-duty officer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Convicted sex offender arrested at Gonzales Beach

After committing crimes involving children, offender barred from public beaches, being in proximity to kids

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read