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Meet Jagmeet Singh, fashionable Canadian politician and Trudeau challenger

Born to Punjabi immigrants, the 38-year-old Sikh lawyer is the first non-white politician to head a major political party in Canada

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Meet Jagmeet Singh, Canada's first Sikh to lead major party
Singh is a proud Sikh; he wears a turban and carries a kirpan — a ceremonial knife

Jagmeet Singh, the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit in Ontario's legislature, has now been elected to lead Canada’s left-leaning New Democratic Party.
 
Born to Punjabi immigrants, the 38-year-old Sikh lawyer is the first non-white politician to head a major political party in Canada. And, given his youth, media savviness and enthusiasm, Singh might just be the man to challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the 2019 federal elections.
 
Singh is a proud Sikh; he wears a turban and carries a kirpan — a ceremonial knife. He openly talks about his experiences with racism and has fought for policies that would combat racism.

Here's what you must know about Jagmeet Singh

Family background

Born in 1979 in Scarborough, Metropolitan Toronto, Singh was raised in Newfoundland and Labrador, while his father, trained as a psychiatrist in India, attended medical school there and worked as a security guard before practising in Canada. is the oldest of four children born to the Sikh immigrant parents.

He later moved to Windsor, Ontario aged seven.

Bullied as a child

was often bullied at school for his "brown skin, long hair and funny-sounding name".

“I also realised I wasn’t alone. I saw kids around me — kids no less capable, no less worthy of respect and dignity —who were not in a position to follow their dreams, simply because their families couldn’t afford it. That struck me as incredibly unfair,” his statement on his website states.

A criminal Lawyer, fluent in French and Punjabi

has all that it takes to be a leader of the masses. He is a criminal defence lawyer who speaks fluent French and Punjabi.

Singh obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Western Ontario in 2001 and a Bachelor of Laws degree from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 2005.

He spent years defending refugees and immigrants.

Trained in mixed martial arts

Singh is trained in martial arts. Among other sports, he has practised taekwondo, Muay Thai boxing and judo.

Network of loyalists

Immediately recognisable in his tailor-made suits and brightly coloured turbans, Singh has cultivated a public image of a modern, positive politician. He has a vast network of loyal activists across the country and shares images with his 66,3000 Instagram followers regularly. On Twitter, Singh has a following of 80,000.

Political journey

Jagmeet Singh's foray into came while he was studying at Osgoode Law School, Ontario, where he campaigned against rising tuition fees. He was called to the bar in 2006, before going on to work as a criminal defence lawyer in the Greater Toronto area.

His years spent defending refugees and immigrants inspired Singh to enter in 2011. He ran as an MP with the NDP in the Ontario district of Bramalea-Gore-Malton. "They didn't have an ally they could turn to in government. These community organisations needed a partner and they encouraged me to make the jump into electoral politics," Singh wrote on his website.

Among the policies Singh proposed on his platform were electoral reforms, income security and an accelerated climate agenda.

He was re-elected in the provincial election in 2013 before being appointed provincial NDP deputy leader in 2015.


Singh's rise

In September this year, Singh gained global attention after a video from his campaign event, ‘Jagmeet and Greet’, went viral on social media. The video showed a woman heckling Singh about the Muslim brotherhood and the Sharia law, after interrupting his speech. Singh ignored the racial comments hurled at him and said, “We are not going to be intimidated by hatred.” He countered the woman with his campaign motto of ‘love and courage’.

Earlier this year, on Canada’s Multiculturalism Day, Singh had tweeted about how he felt “there was something wrong” with him and how his “turban and beard evoked a reaction in every room” he went.

Fashion icon

Singh's passion for fashion caught the attention of GQ magazine earlier this year. It described him as "the incredibly well-dressed rising star in Canadian " In the magazine's profile of him, Singh said his personal style is an extension of his political platform.

Singh explained at the time that his style showed his confidence, which could help disarm stereotypes about people wearing turbans and long beards.

First Published: Tue, October 03 2017. 13:25 IST
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