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“So if Toronto had a drinking water problem, if Montreal had a drinking water problem, would you be asking the same question?” asked visibly upset NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to a journalist questioning the cost of getting all Indigenous communities fresh drinking water.
Singh’s response was to a Global News journalist asking, “Are you just writing a blank cheque for all problems for all Indigenous communities across the country [if] you get into office?”
Singh hadn’t actually pledged unlimited funds to Indigenous communities, but $1.8 billion to address the longstanding crisis of undrinkable tap water on Indigenous reserves that has been a problem unaddressed by consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments.
“Yes, they deserve clean drinking water. Yes, we can make it happen. It’s a matter of priority, and I’m going to do it,” Singh continued after admonishing the journalist for asking if it was too expensive.
During the 2015 election campaign, Justin Trudeau promised First Nations that the Liberals would tackle the issue, but once in power his government largely failed to deliver on the file.
Since Singh, a visible minority, gave an impassioned response to the news Trudeau repeatedly wore blackface, political observers have been surprised at how much the NDP leader has stepped up his game. The last two years Singh helmed the party, pundits largely said he didn’t have the political chops to lead.
Earlier this week he also deftly handled a racist Montreal heckler telling him to cut off his turban.
A reinvigorated Singh seems to be getting left-wing Canadians attention. Some polls, including the latest one from Campaign Research, show Singh’s job approval rating from voters shot up from 22% at the start of Sept. to 33% at the beginning of Oct.
In other polling, support for Trudeau and Liberals plummeted with Indigenous voters, according to a poll conducted by Environics Research and commissioned by Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN).
The survey found only 21% of Indigenous voters now support the Liberals, down from 40% in the 2015 election. The poll also found the Conservatives have 26%, NDP have 17% and the Green Party have 16%. Interestingly though, Environics Research also found 58% of Indigenous voters said they could still change their mind before E-day.
Trudeau took heat from Indigenous communities earlier this year when he flippantly told an Indigenous protester “Thank you for your donation” when she called him out for not getting clean drinking water for Grassy Narrows.
Indigenous people were also disappointed in Trudeau’s Liberals when news broke on Friday the Trudeau government is challenging a human rights ruling that the Canadian government must compensate First Nations children abused due to failures of the on-reserve, under-funded child and family services and child welfare system.
The Trudeau Liberals have also been criticized for getting rid of financial transparency on reserves and the disorganized Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry, which saw a series of people quit.