A 38-year-old Sikh lawyer was on Sunday elected the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, becoming the first non-white politician to head a major political party in the country.
Jagmeet Singh, the Ontario provincial lawmaker, was elected on the first ballot to lead the party into the 2019 election against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
He won the decisive first-ballot victory over three other candidates by receiving 53.6 % of the vote.
“Thank you, New Democrats. The run for Prime Minister begins now,” he tweeted after the victory.
“That’s why today, I’m officially launching my campaign to be the next Prime Minister of Canada,” he added.
Mr. Singh, who has penchant for colourful turbans, is the first member of a minority community to lead a major federal political party.
He now has the difficult task of rebuilding the party that lost 59 seats in the 2015 election.
“This race has renewed excitement in our party,” Singh said, calling the win an “incredibly profound honour”.
The New Democratic Party is currently at the third place in Canada’s Parliament, with 44 of 338 seats. The party has never held power.
In the 2011 general election, the party made historic gains only to lose almost a million votes — mostly to Trudeau’s Liberals — four years later.
Mr. Singh said he would focus on issues of climate change, reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and electoral reform, The Globe and Mail reported.
He has received attention for his sharp style.
Sikhs account for roughly 1.4 per cent of Canada’s population. The country’s defence minister is also from the community.