I’m as intrigued as anyone by the arrival of Jagmeet Singh on the federal political scene, but let’s not declare the Justin Trudeau era over just yet.
For one thing, governments in Canada typically get a second term. And Trudeau continues to have considerable personal popularity even as the party struggles with broken promises and minor controversies. More importantly, while Singh is an appealing and charismatic figure who has the potential to draw from a growing cohort of young voters, he is still very much unproven on the big stage. And unlike Trudeau, who was broadly underestimated by both his opponents and political pundits, Singh runs the risk of not living up to the hype.
The issue isn’t so much whether the country is ready for a Sikh party leader; I suspect that won’t be much of an issue at all. It’s whether Singh is ready for a national campaign against Trudeau, who in two years has evolved from being the youngest and least experienced federal leader to the oldest and most battle-tested. The 2019 election promises to be interesting. But Singh still has a long way to go before he is a big factor in its outcome.