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NDP leadership hopefuls prepare their final pitches for votes

NDP leadership hopefuls prepare their final pitches for votes
From CBC - September 17, 2017

The four candidates running for the federal NDP leadership will take to a stage in Hamiltonon Sunday afternoon and make one final appeal to party members for their votes.

The "Leadership Showcase" event coincides with the NDP's caucus meetings where MPs are talking aboutstrategies and priority issuesfor the fall session in Parliament. But they are also focused onwho is the best choice to replace Tom Mulcair Ontario MP Charlie Angus, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, Quebec MP Guy Caronor, newcomer to the federal scene, Ontario MPPJagmeet Singh.

Singh the perceived front-runner in the race had to play defence on Saturday when some competitors raised the fact that he does not have a seat in the House of Commons, and one Quebec MP raised doubts about his ability to connect to voters in that provincebecause he wears religious symbols. Singh,a Sikh,wears a turban and kirpan, a small sword worn on a strap or belt.

Pierre Nanteltold Radio-Canada that while Singh, 38, is charismatic, Quebecersdo not want to see their leaders wearing visibly religious symbols.

Singh, when asked for a response,disagreed with Nantel's assessment of Quebec voters and said they have a long history of being open-minded and progressive and that he's confident in his ability to "reach out to people on the issues that matter."

He said he's shown in his campaign that he has a deep respect for Quebec and he will continue to demonstrate that.He's never asked people to accept the way he looks, Singh said.

"People in Quebecaccept that I havethe values and the beliefs the social democratic and progressive beliefs that will benefit Quebec," said Singh, who was at the Hamilton Convention Centre Saturday evening doing interviews and rehearsing Sunday's speech.

22 minutes to make pitch

Each leadership hopeful will make presentationslasting22minutes where they will lay out their vision for the party and make the case for why they are the best person to lead it. They are expected to include videos, live music, family membersand supporters vouching for their candidate.

About 124,600 NDP members are eligible to vote and they will cast their ballots online and by mail over the next two weeks. The results will be revealed on Oct.1, and if no one receives a majority of the votes the rounds will continue. Members rank their picks in order of preference.

Singh is going into the voting feeling confident.

"I absolutely think we will get enough support to win, whether it's the first ballot or second ballot or third ballot I am not sure. But I am absolutely confident we will have enough support from the new members we have signed up as well as existingmembership to be able to pull the win out," he said.

Singh has led the way in fundraising and claims to have signed up 47,000 of the party's 83,000 new members, a figure that ca not be verified by the party and has been put into question by Angus's campaign.

Angus alsosaid he's feeling good and that his showcase on Sunday will demonstrate how he is the right choice to lead the party in the next election.

"We had an enormous opportunity to form government in 2015 and we blew it," Angus said.

Rebuilding in Quebec

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