NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh smiles after casting his ballot for the federal byelection in Burnaby South at an advance poll, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday February 15, 2019.
DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Three federal byelections are being held Monday, in Burnaby South as well as the ridings of Outremont in Quebec and York–Simcoe in Ontario. The Burnaby race is centre stage because federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hopes to win his first seat in Parliament here.Singh — who has lived his entire adult life in Ontario — has parachuted into Burnaby South, which he believes is a safe NDP seat. Despite being party leader, a win for Singh isn’t guaranteed. He’s up against strong candidates from the other established federal parties. And while the NDP often wins in the area, in the 2015 election the NDP’s Kennedy Stewart only edged out the Liberal runner-up by one percentage point (35 per cent of the votes compared to 34).The Liberal candidate this time is Richard Lee, a longtime Burnaby North MLA, who replaced Karen Wang mid-campaign when she resigned after making a racial social-media comment. Jay Shin, a rookie politician, lawyer and professor who grew up in Burnaby, is hoping to take the seat for the Conservatives — traditionally the runner-up party for area voters. Rounding out the field are People’s Party of Canada candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler-Thompson and independents Terry Grimwood and Valentine Wu.This byelection offers Burnaby South voters a real opportunity to help set the agenda for Canada.Under Singh’s leadership, the NDP has struggled, with just 14-per-cent support across the country, according to an aggregation of recent polls compiled by the CBC. A Leger poll this week found that just six per cent of Canadians believe Singh would make the best prime minister of the party leaders.What is clear from national election results and polling is that Canadians don’t believe the NDP and its policies are best for Canada. Singh is poised to continue the party’s long tradition of failure, and it’s no surprise.He strongly opposes the Trans Mountain pipeline, a project that is clearly in the national interest and essential to economic development in Western Canada. Meanwhile, he favours the $40-billion LNG Canada project, although he faces pressure to oppose that project by NDP members with impractical climate change views.With the NDP’s frequent opposition to major economic developments that provide jobs and prosperity, combined with its support for higher taxes and endless growth to government programs, it’s understandable that the vast majority of federal voters don’t view the NDP as a viable party to lead the country.Singh has also never fully explained his views on terrorism, specifically as it relates to calls for the creation of an independent Sikh state, Khalistan, in India. While he has condemned terrorism, he has appeared at events with Khalistan separatists who endorse violence and he also failed in a CBC interview to denounce Talwinder Singh Parmar, thought to be the organizer of the 1985 Air India bombing.Lee also faces strong headwinds, especially with the turmoil in Ottawa surrounding the resignations of former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould and Gerald Butts, the prime minister’s principal secretary, after reports that Wilson-Raybould was pressured to interfere with the prosecution of Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau’s fumbling attempts to initially deny the improper attempts to influence what must be independent prosecutors and his subsequent refusal to be transparent should be a grave concern to voters. Lee, an outspoken critic of China as a young man, recently has been criticized for being too close to the Chinese Communist Party, having been photographed dozens of times with Chinese officials.Conservative candidate Jay Shin is new to politics but has a backstory that the diverse community of Burnaby South can embrace. He immigrated with his family, who ran a grocery store in Burnaby, where he grew up. He has two undergraduate degrees, a master of business administration and a law degree. Shin practises business law, has taught at two Korean universities and teaches at the University of B.C.’s law school.Shin says the top priority for voters he speaks with in the riding is to rein in excessive spending by the current Liberal government and return to balanced budgets. That’s a worthy goal if we are going to maintain the services Canadians rely on without further taxing middle-class families already stretched to the limit, particularly in Metro Vancouver.With the Conservatives climbing above the Liberals in the polls and possibly forming the next federal government, Burnaby South voters should do themselves a favour by supporting a successful, accomplished local candidate who likely will be at the centre of power.Editorials are unsigned opinion pieces representing the views of The Vancouver Sun editorial board, which is made up of senior editors. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Letters to the editor should be sent to email@example.com.If you have a tip about a story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. CLICK HERE to report a typo.