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Canadian party leader makes election pledge to learn Welsh after being ‘stumped’ by voter

20 Sep 2021 2 minute read
Jagmeet Singh. Picture by ideas_dept on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

The leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party has pledged to learn Welsh after being stumped by a voter who tried to converse with him in the language.

Jagmeet Singh, the first visible minority to be elected to lead a major federal political party in Canada, is already fluent in English, French, and Punjabi.

He managed to respond to voters in more than a dozen languages while campaigning in Surrey Center,  British Columbia before one started speaking Welsh. “You stumped me there,” he said. “I’ve never been stumped before.”

However, he then added that he would learn Welsh, according to reporters who were present.

Jagmeet Singh helped prop up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority government for two years after the 2019 election.  A tight race means the Liberals or Conservatives may end up with another minority after the Sept. 20 election, meaning that he could be kingmaker once again.

TokTok star Singh, 42, a criminal defence lawyer who became NDP leader in 2017, already outstrips Trudeau and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole in personal popularity, according to the polls.

But the NDP only has 20% support among undecided voters, compared to 32% for both the Liberals and Conservatives.

“People are fed up with being taken for granted by the Liberals,” Singh told Reuters. “Things haven’t gotten better, they’ve gotten worse, so they’re looking forward to something different.”

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