Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh opens Burnaby byelection campaign office

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Prime Minister Trudeau needs to do everything he can to protect the safety and security of two Canadian citizens who are being detained in China.

Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, were arrested last month after Chinese telecommunications executive Meng Wanzhou was taken into custody in Vancouver at the request of the U.S., which wants her extradited to face fraud charges.

Singh said everyone needs to stand together in support of the two men and it’s “crucial and vital” that Justin Trudeau works to protect them.

“They’re not receiving due process — this is deeply concerning,” Singh said. “We need to know what the allegations are. What are the crimes that they’re alleged to have committed? Why are they being detained? I would ask these difficult questions to the (Chinese) government.”

Singh made his comments Sunday at the official opening of his byelection campaign office in Burnaby.

Trudeau announced last week that the Burnaby South byelection — along with two others in Ontario and Quebec — will take place Feb. 25.

Kennedy Stewart vacated the seat in September, when he submitted his nomination papers for the municipal election. Stewart, who won Burnaby South in 2015 by just over 500 votes, was elected mayor of Vancouver in October.

The election is particularly important for Singh, who leads the NDP but doesn’t have a seat in the House of Commons. Before he was chosen leader in 2017, Singh was the Ontario MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton.

Singh said the major issues he is focusing on for the byelection are housing, health care and the environment. This includes building co-operative and non-market housing, expanding health-care coverage to include medication, and investing in clean-energy jobs and the “green” economy.

“When it comes to the things that matter to people, New Democrats are in people’s corner,” Singh told the crowd outside his campaign office.

Singh received an endorsement Sunday from former NDP MP Svend Robinson, who has expressed interest in running in Burnaby North-Seymour in the fall.

“It’s a great community, Jagmeet. You’re coming into a community that welcomes you and welcomes your progressive politics,” Robinson told supporters.

The Liberals are running daycare operator Karen Wang — who kicked off her campaign Sunday — and corporate lawyer Jay Shin has the nomination for the Conservatives. Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson is running for the People’s Party of Canada. The Green Party of Canada hasn’t nominated a candidate, extending Singh “leader’s courtesy.”

A general federal election is scheduled for Oct. 21.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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