Jagmeet Singh became the first visible minority to claim the leadership of a federal party on Sunday.
It is not the first time the Sikh politician from Brampton, Ont., has broken a barrier.
Singh was the NDP’s first successful foray in Peel region when he won the seat in 2011. That was not just at the provincial level but at all levels of government.
Singh, was born in Scarborough Ont., to Punjabi parents and moved with his family to Newfoundland shortly afterwards so his dad could study to become a doctor.
When he was 7 years old, the Singh family settled in Windsor, Ont.
Singh says he was the victim of bullying in Windsor so he took up martial arts to defend himself.
“Like many others who stand out, I was picked on because I had a funny sounding name, brown skin, and long hair. I faced a lot bullying at school and often felt like I didn’t belong,” he wrote on his website. “I had to learn to stand up for myself, something that has prompted a lifelong interest in martial arts.”
Singh was elected in October 2011 in the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton, after a failed run for a federal seat earlier that year. Among the policies Singh proposed on his platform were electoral reform, income security and an accelerated climate agenda.
He was re-elected in the provincial election in 2013 before being appointed as provincial NDP deputy leader in 2015.
During the campaign, Singh was confronted by an anti-Muslim protestor at an event in Brampton.
Singh was speaking to supporters when he was accosted by a heckler.
“When is your Sharia going to end?” the woman shouted, referring to traditional Islamic law. “We know you’re in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood!”
Video of the event went viral, showing him calmly responding, “We don’t want to be intimidated by hate, we don’t want hatred to ruin a positive event … so let’s show people how to treat someone with love.
“We welcome you. We love you, we support you,” he told the woman, who eventually stormed off.
The woman’s rant seemed misguided as he is not Muslim but rather Sikh.
Before being elected, Singh was a defence lawyer. According to his website he is fluent in English, French and Punjabi.
Singh, who has been profiled in GQ, made Toronto Life’s 2013 Best-Dressed list as one of the most fashionable people in Toronto. According to the Toronto Life article, he likes to pair custom-tailored suits with colourful turbans and pocket squares.
— With files from Global News and the Canadian Press
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