NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to students in Langford during visit to Van. Island


WATCH: Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was on Vancouver Island Tuesday, making stops in Victoria, Langford and Cobble Hill. April Lawrence reports.

Cracking jokes at Belmont Secondary, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was engaging a room full of teenagers Tuesday afternoon.

With a federal election looming experts say the appeal to young voters will be a focus of the federal NDP in the months ahead.

“I think you’re going to see a strong youth based message, again with a youthful leader like Jagmeet Singh in fall 2019,” said David Black, Communications and Culture professor at Royal Roads University.

The school was one of several stops on Singh’s visit to southern Vancouver Island.

In the morning he gathered with a group of Island NDP MP’s and university students in Victoria’s Inner Harbour to promote proportional representation.

“I want to make sure people feel engaged and make sure their voice and their vote matters,” Singh said.

Vancouver Island is a stronghold of the federal NDP, so political experts say it’s no surprise to see Singh touring here but as he looks to assert himself on the national stage they say he’s facing a major roadblock. With no by-election call in his riding of Burnaby-South, Singh doesn’t have a seat in Parliament.

“It’s difficult for any federal leader to introduce themselves to the Canadian public, to demonstrate his chops in Question Period, to be seen to lead the party when you’re on the outside looking in,” said Black.

The party is also facing major fundraising challenges but with Singh, Black says, the party has an opportunity.

“A party that is facing some interesting challenges but also the opportunity here with this new leader, with his fresh face to reinvent itself here in 2019,” he said.

“Given a chance he may well do well but until he’s given a seat his party’s going to be hobbled.”

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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