Ontario’s Jagmeet Singh Responds to Racist Accusations with “Love and Courage”

NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh recently shut down racist accusations with “love and courage”—and that’s not the only reason he should be on your radar

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Jagmeet Singh Instagram: Jagmeet Singh, Deputy Leader for the Ontario NDP. Aparita Bhandari is bringing 5 fashionable Indian men to the Star for a photo shoot in the studio of them together, and individually. (Chris So/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty)

You may know NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh for the seemingly effortless way he blends politics and style to brighten up Queen’s Park—or more recently, his ability to stand up to racist comments with “love and courage.”

During a “Jagmeet and Greet” in Brampton, Ontario, a woman vehemently accused Singh of being “in bed with Sharia” and Muslim extremists.

While the woman continued to yell racist statements in Singh’s face, the politician said, “We don’t want hatred to ruin a positive event, so let’s show people how we would treat someone with love.” He turned his focus to the woman in front of him and began repeating, “We welcome you.”

Following the incident, Singh, who announced his bid for leadership of the federal NDP in May, posted a statement to his 61,500 Instagram followers.

A post shared by Jagmeet Singh (@jagmeetsingh) on

“Many people have commented that I could have just said, I’m not Muslim. In fact, many have clarified that I’m actually Sikh,” stated Singh. “While I’m proud of who I am, I purposely didn’t go down that road because it suggests their hate would be OK if I was Muslim. We all know it’s not.”

The video of the incident has gone viral, earning Singh praise from the international community, but this isn’t the only reason the former deputy leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party should be on your radar.

Singh, 38, a criminal lawyer and human rights activist, has represented the Bramalea—Gore—Malton riding since 2011, and has been the provincial party’s justice and consumer services critic since 2015. Along the way, he’s steadily been building up a strong social following with his impressive IG and Snapchat game that makes him a hit with the kids. Sound like a certain PM?

Here are 10 more reasons why you should know the cool, progressive and impeccably dressed politician in the race to replace Tom Mulcair as the next federal NDP leader.

1. He’s a proud Sikh

Born in Scarborough, Ont., with roots in Punjab, Singh is the first turban-wearing Sikh to hold a seat at Queen’s Park. You can easily spot him in the legislature by his brightly coloured turbans that often correspond with social justice campaigns (more on that later). He also proudly dons similarly well-made articles of faith, including a Kara (bracelet) and Kirpan (ceremonial sword), that’s held in place by a decorative Gatra (Kirpan strap).

2. Did we mention he has great style?

Thanks @gq !!! . Special shout out to @amaturhistorian . Link in bio . #gq #gqmagazine

A post shared by Jagmeet Singh (@jagmeetsingh) on

And we’re not the only ones who think so. Singh was profiled in a GQ feature in February, with an accompanying fashion shoot at Queen’s Park, where he discussed how his faith has influenced his style, and the implications of that in a political life. “A beard and a turban sometimes conjure up negative associations, but if you see someone with a lime-coloured, bright orange, or pink turban, it disarms people’s stereotypical notions of this image and it disarms people from those stereotypes. It became a way for me to extend my platform as a politician,” he told the magazine.

3. He bikes to work every day

Suits & cycles

A post shared by Jagmeet Singh (@jagmeetsingh) on

On an unapologetically hipster Gazelle bike. We’ll leave you with that.

4. He speaks three languages

Singh is fluent in both of Canada’s official languages, English and French, as well as Punjabi.

5. He likes a good suit

This one’s for you … 😉

A post shared by Jagmeet Singh (@jagmeetsingh) on

You rang, Tom Ford?

6. He’s trained in martial arts

Growing up, Singh recalls being bullied because of the colour of the skin and his father’s response to enrol him in taekwondo so he would be able to defend himself. “There was a lot of racism as a brown kid, with long hair and funny-sounding first name… I got in a lot of fights all the time,” he told HuffPost. Singh then went on to become captain of his high school wrestling team and from 2003-2007, he was the GTA’s undefeated champion for his weight class in submission grappling. Are you listening to this, Justin?

7. On Wednesdays he really does wear pink

As part of the national campaign to end bullying, Singh wore this millennial pink turban on Pink Shirt Day, which takes place on the last Wednesday of February.

8. He’s already a world-class leader

Pensive in Paris…..

A post shared by Jagmeet Singh (@jagmeetsingh) on

Sweaters & Sandals

A post shared by Jagmeet Singh (@jagmeetsingh) on

And his travel selfie game is on point.

9. He’s keeping Jack Layton’s legacy of hope alive

A political organizer with the ability to rally the youth around progressive social movements—he worked to fight the Toronto Police force’s carding policy and took to the streets to protest Bill C-51—Singh draws a striking resemblance to the late, charismatic NDP leader. It’s no surprise that BuzzFeed Canada has developed an “orange crush” on the dapper politician.

10. He’s remained coy about joining the NDP leadership race, but…

See you there // On se voit là-bas. RSVP in bio!

A post shared by Jagmeet Singh (@jagmeetsingh) on

His masterful side-stepping around the question of his political future speaks for itself. “I’m considering all the options. What would be in the best interest of Canada. What would be in the best interests of the progressive movement… these are some of the factors that I’m thinking about as I chat with folks,” he told HuffPost back in January. And now, along with the rest of Canada, we wait.

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