TORONTO — Olivia Chow urged people to go to the polls with hope, not fear, as she joined NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in her late husband Jack Layton’s former riding.
"I wish other leaders, especially Liberals, don’t use fear as a factor," Chow said in Toronto-Danforth.
"Because fear is very short term. Hope is much longer term, is much more optimistic and it builds confidence, builds our country."
Singh’s push ahead of Monday’s election has remained laser-focused on criticizing Justin Trudeau and discouraging voters from casting a ballot for the Liberals just to keep the Conservatives out of power. The riding has been in Liberal Julie Dabrusin’s hands since 2015.
Chow, a former NDP politician, said the idea of strategic voting is "tiresome" and has been used against the New Democrats for 50 years. She said she believes Layton would have seen Singh as a courageous leader.
"Here's a person that is connecting with ordinary people and he would be mightily proud of the campaign that Jagmeet has been running," she said. “I think he would say ‘Don’t let people tell you it can't be done.'"
Layton led the NDP to its best showing in the 2011 federal election. Just a little over three months after that historic electoral breakthrough, Layton died of cancer.
Singh has said he'd like to see the riding named after his late predecessor.
Chow's call was questioned by the Liberals, who pointed to NDP flyers distributed in the riding Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is seeking. The flyers encourage people to vote NDP and accuse the Greens of infighting. The Liberals say that amounts to a push for strategic voting.
Earlier, Singh faced a group of demonstrators at the Toronto riding of Davenport calling on the NDP leader to make the Fairy Creek old-growth logging standoff in British Columbia an election issue.
Almost 1,000 people have been arrested in protests over the logging of old-growth forests in the area on Vancouver Island since May when the RCMP started to enforce a B.C. Supreme Court injunction against blockades erected in several areas near logging sites. The forestry company is in court this week to apply for a one-year extension of the injunction.
Niklas Agarwal, 25, with Climate Justice Toronto, said the federal New Democrats need to stand up and support an end to all old-growth logging in British Columbia. Agarwal said Singh makes efforts to connect with young people on social media, doing dances on TikTok, but the New Democrats will lose young voters if he doesn’t take a stand.
"As young people we need a climate plan that actually is bold and transformative," Agarwal said.
Singh said he’s spoken with Indigenous leaders in the area who want support with conservation efforts. But he said it's important Indigenous people lead any decisions about resources on their traditional territory.
"Indigenous communities have to be supported. We can’t come in as settlers and tell them what to do," Singh told the handful of demonstrators in the Toronto riding of Davenport.
Singh later addressed the B.C. Assembly of First Nations online after he apologized to the organization earlier this week for not accepting an invitation to speak at their annual meeting.
Chiefs asked him questions about what he would do for Indigenous rights and economic development in the province. Singh said an NDP government would ensure a treaty to treaty relationship.
Singh reiterated his position as an ally to Indigenous voters. He was the first leader to campaign on a reserve and spent Monday in Neskantaga First Nation, a fly-in northern Ontario community with Canada’s longest boil-water advisory.
Singh has also spent the final days of the campaign facing questions about the New Democrats' tax on the wealthy and affordable housing strategy, major points of the party's platform that have faced some criticism for a lack of details.
He said Thursday that the New Democrats are proposing things that haven’t been done in a long time but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.
Singh did say he would never consider taxing capital gains on primary residences.
"That would never happen under a New Democrat government," he said.
Following a couple days of significant campaigning at ridings in Toronto and area, Singh now has his sight set on courting voters in other parts of the country.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2021.
Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press