OTTAWA – NDP leader Jagmeet Singh learned that he would get his chance in early February to win the British Columbia seat in the House of Commons – like a more friendly ride in his hometown in Brampton, Ontario.
Liberal Raj Grewal announced on Thursday that he was stepping down as a member of parliament for Brampton East for unspecified "personal and medical reasons". Whip Party Mark Holland said Grewal's resignation was effective immediately.
The shocking news fell just as Liberals confirmed that at the start of the new year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would call for three choices – including Burnaby South, where Singh had been nominated for candidacy – for early February.
Brampton East can now be added to the list.
Trudeau can also schedule another election at B.C. for the same date. Up sixth, because it will be vacated on January 22 by Liberal Montreal MP Nicola Di Iorio, likely to remain without representation until the general election scheduled for next October.
When Singh was first elected as the NDP leader last fall, he said he wanted to run federal in Brampton East, riding the horse he represented for six years in the Ontario legislature and now represented by his brother, Gurratan.
He was originally intended to wait until the general election to seek Commons seats but was under intense pressure to enter the DPR sooner after starting to falter as leader. He announced in August that he would run in Burnaby South, where MP NDP Kennedy Stewart had announced his intention to resign and run for mayor of Vancouver.
Singh was nominated as an NDP candidate for Burnaby South in mid-September, because whenever the election came.
Singh faces a much tougher battle at B.C. up, where Stewart only took 547 votes more than Liberal competitors in 2015, than in his hometown of Brampton. Indeed, Liberals are personally concerned that Singh could lose the choice of Burnaby South, encouraging the NDP to dump him and choose a potentially more attractive leader before the upcoming election.
After weeks of arguing in the Trudeau circle, insiders said the prime minister had decided the Liberals would run the candidate against Singh, rather than standing aside to give him a better chance. They said the decision was based on the wishes of grassroots liberals at B.C., who almost agreed to fight in South Burnaby.
A spokesman for Singh did not immediately respond to questions about whether the leader might consider giving up on Burnaby South and walking in Brampton East instead.
The transition will not be without consequences for Singh, who has gone out to convince Burnaby voters that he is not a political tourist. He said he and his wife intended to stay on horseback and that he would run there in general elections too.
"I'm all involved in Burnaby," he said in August.
But that was before the Brampton driver opened.
Grewal said in a Facebook post that he had struggled with the decision to resign for some time.
In a tweet, Trudeau said he learned that Grewal "faced serious personal challenges" and resigned.
"Even though it might be a difficult decision, that's the right one. I hope he receives the support he needs, "Trudeau wrote.
I'm all above Burnaby
Trudeau was criticized last month when he called an election in eastern Ontario rode at Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes for December 3, while leaving Burnaby South, driving Montreal from Outremont and Ontario riding at empty York-Simcoe.
At that time, Trudeau argued that the other three had just been vacated, while the Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes had been without parliamentarians for almost six months, since Gordon Brown's Conservative death.
Insiders now say Trudeau will set a date in early February for three other choices. He will wait until early January to call on them so that candidates do not need to campaign during the Christmas holiday season.
If the New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson resigns his British Columbia Nanaimo-Ladysmith seat in the new year, Trudeau can call that choice at the same time.
Malcolmson, who made the leap into provincial politics, had announced his intention to resign after the election was officially called on the journey of the Nanaimo province. MLA, Leonard Krog, was elected mayor of Nanaimo last month but has not resigned from his legislative seat.
If Malcolmson is not out of the federal seat until January, Nanaimo-Ladysmith can end up on the same boat as driving on Iorio from Saint-Leonard – Saint-Michel: without MP until next fall.
The Bill C-76, which is expected by the government to be passed by the end of this year, will ban the prime minister from calling for elections within nine months of the day set for elections, making the January 20 decision on the last day possible to be named.