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

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,516 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Central zone has 1,849 active cases

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It’s not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he’d been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

Police are still looking for suspects, and have called in their forensics experts to help

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
The Longhorn Saloon and Grill has opened its patio for outdoor diners. (Facebook photo)
Town of Ponoka launches new temporary seasonal patio program

The Town of Ponoka has launched a new Temporary Seasonal Patio Program… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Most Read