Coded Language in the #ndpldr Debate and Why I’m Supporting Jagmeet Singh

Coded Language in the #ndpldr Debate and Why I’m Supporting Jagmeet Singh

Last night was the sixth debate in the NDP leadership race and wow, do we ever have a lot to unpack. It’s been nearly a full 24 hours since the debate took place, and I’m still sick to my stomach.

For a race often criticised for candidates who violently agree with each other, last night was full of problematic content, including Niki Ashton’s attempt to pit the LGBTQ2+ community against people of colour. She used coded language against the candidate who is a person of colour. Ashton also did some amazing gaslighting of the trans people who criticised her on her LGBTQ2+ platform.

After the debate was over, many people of colour and LGBTQ2+ people took to Twitter to speak out, only to be met with more gaslighting and dismissals.

There is just so much to unpack, my brain is having a really difficult time digesting it all and how to best tackle the issues at hand. Perhaps the best place to start is when the first volley happened.

You can watch the full debate below. Throughout this post, I’ll be noting specific times for you to jump to.

A Note: I have received permission to embed the tweets in this post. As someone who lives in the intersections of disabled, gay, and a trans man, I know what it’s like to have people co-opt my voice; embed my tweets without my permission and the subsequent online attacks that occur. Also, I have had cis people use my words on trans issues as if they are their own words. Because I’m white, it is wrong for me to even paraphrase the voices of people of colour. For these reasons and more, permission was asked and received.

There were four things that happened last night that fall within the categories of racial antagonism and trans antagonism that is important to address:

1) Niki Ashton Used the Debate to Spread Misinformation on Jagmeet Singh’s Position on Ontario’s Sex Ed Curriculum

You can begin to watch this exchange at 28:58. This misinformation has been going around, mainly spread by Ashton supporters, since Singh entered into the race. It’s never been directly addressed by Singh’s campaign because it does no good to directly address misleading statements. Doing so only amplifies the misinformation and distracts from the real policies and stances.

When Ashton brought up the misinformation in the debate, it became open territory. I’m glad Singh got a chance to address the issue directly and used his extra time to make sure his response was clear.

However, there was a more insidious thing that occurred when Ashton purposely and deliberately brought this up in the debate: She was pitting people of colour and new Canadians against the LGTBQ2+ community.

This is something we have been fighting for a really long time. I am disabled and gay and AFBAB transgender and face multiple forms of violence as a result, but I do have white privilege. People of colour face not only racism but higher amounts of homophobia and transphobia. And if LGBTQ2+ people of colour also happened to be disabled, it’s even worse. For decades, people of colour and the LGBTQ2+ have been fighting together trying to put an end to people who use the LGBTQ2+ community as props to fight people of colour.

Here is what another person for the LGBTQ2+ community had to say about being used as a prop:

And from a woman of colour about pitting our two communities against each other:

This same thing happened after Pulse and we had to fight so hard against it, only be gaslighted. Ashton claims to be an intersectional feminist, and yet she used intersectionality as a weapon against the only person of colour candidate.

But, it gets even worse. She used coded language while doing it. Here is what some women of colour had to say about this issue:

2) Ashton Saying She Better Understands Racial Justice Issues than the Person of Colour Lawyer Candidate Who’s Spend his Entire Life Fighting

This begin at around 55:07 in the debate. It’s the “which we have done in our platform” comment is where the coded, “Our platform is better than your platform on justice issues, dismissing your entire life’s work and experiences on this issue” where this starts. Not only does Ashton dismiss Singh’s lived experiences and work experience on these issues, but her comment erased all of the racial justice mini policies that Jagmeet has released.

Jagmeet was the first candidate, and the only candidate, to explicitly say, “Black Lives Matter”*, and to call for an end to carding. Thread begins here:

Jagmeet was the first candidate to talk about the no-fly list. Thread begins here:

Jagmeet also shared a really person Twitter essay about his own experiences with “routine stops” as a person of colour who has a beard and wears a turban.

And the list goes on.

What Singh hasn’t done yet is released a full comprehensive platform on his website, which I’ll address at the end.

Almost everything in Ashton’s platform has been taken from the mini-statements Singh has made on these issues. This is why people have been calling Ashton’s platform “plagiarism”. Which goes back to my above note about why I won’t use the words of people of colour without their permission and make sure it’s their faces being seen, instead of my own.

Another failure in Ashton’s intersectionality.

3) Ashton Dismissing Criticism from Trans People About her LGBTQ2+ Platform, Again Implying She Knows Better than Trans People

This piece begins in the same segment as above, after the 56:22 mark. “In fact, a platform that has been attacked quite a bit on social media, but I am proud to have stood up for it.”

Want to know why she was “attacked”? Because in her supposed platform about violence and justice for trans people, she erased 50% of trans people: AFBAB trans and non-binary people. Not only that, but it was pointed out to her, and a promise was made that it would be fixed. Not only was it not fixed, but she is doubling down on her platform and dismissing the legitimate criticism from trans people.

I’ve personally experienced her campaign supporters gaslighting me when I called out the issue. And I know a number of trans people who Niki has blocked on Twitter because of their legitimate criticism of the platform.

I’ve written about these issues many times. I urge you to read two of my longer pieces on this issue: Let’s Talk: Health Care, Reproductive Health Care, and Assigned Female Bodied Trans People and The Violent History of ‘Tomboy’ and Assigned Female-Bodied Trans People. Here are is just one snippet from the health care piece (TW: SEXUAL ASSAULT):

Page 205: Sexual Assault

10.  Experiences also varied across gender, with transgender men (51%) and non-binary people with female on their original birth certificate (58%) being more likely to have been sexually assaulted, in contrast to transgender women (37%) and nonbinary people with male on their original birth certificate (41%) (Figure 15.16). Among transgender men and non-binary people with female on their original birth certificates, rates of sexual assault were higher among people of color, particularly American Indian, Middle Eastern, and multiracial people (Figure 15.17 & Figure 15.18).

If you don’t want to look up the figures, this is the breakdown for female on their original birth certificates according to race and ethnicity for transgender men:

  • Asian 42%
  • Latino 48%
  • Black 51%
  • White 52%
  • Multiracial 58%
  • Middle Eastern 67%
  • American Indian 71%

And this is the breakdown for female on their original birth certificates according to race and ethnicity for non-binary:

  • Asian 47%
  • Latino/a 55%
  • White 59%
  • Middle Eastern 62%
  • Black 65%
  • Multiracial 67%
  • American Indian 74%

A note about the Health Care piece: That piece utilizes American data because the erasure is so profound, Canadian data simply does not exist.

I also urge you to watch the below video about one trans man’s experience when he had to get a hysterectomy for health reasons. This is an extremely common experience and why AFBAB trans people must be explicitly included in discussions about healthcare and not labelled as “women” and erasure.

4) Despite Ashton Being Told Directly What Trans People’s Issues Are with her Platform and Promise to Correct it, She Didn’t

Not only didn’t she correct it, but she doubled down on her platform when trans issues were raised at 1:01:14. At 1:03:38 is when the double-down and lack of understanding of the key issues begins.

The above screenshot of the conversation about the issues with her platform is only a small portion of what was vocalized. Also vocalized was how surgery is the very last issue. Most trans people don’t want surgery; they pursue it because of pressure from a cis society.

The issue begins with being able to self-identify without any barriers. You cannot even begin to tackle violence and healthcare-related issues until we tackle the fundamental right to self-identify, without barriers.

Until society accepts trans identities as true identities instead of seeing it as some choice (I could write 10k words on this one issue), no violence prevention program is going to work. Until society sends a unified message that surgery is not required for transition–because it isn’t; read my gender language primer–funding surgeries that are often sought because of coercion, is not going to help.

The first barrier is requiring a doctor’s note to change ID in provinces that allow self-identification to issue a corrected birth certificate. Finding a doctor to do this is impossible for a lot of trans people.

The second barrier to self-identification is the prohibitive cost to change birth certificate, photo ID, passports, marriage certificates, and other forms of ID that contain a gender.

The third barrier is the requirement to even list a gender to begin with.

I can’t even access emergency medical care without being misgendered, even though I’ve legally transitioned.

This issue is so fundamental, I’ve had to say to my partner, “Please make sure they don’t misgender me when I’m dead because I have a vagina.”

Take if from a trans person, Niki doesn’t understand the issues. Her feminism is performative in this area.

Addressing Jagmeet Singh’s Lack of Formal Platforms in These Areas

The only thing I want to say about this is that Jagmeet has the endorsement of the NDP Justice Critic Alistair MacGregor and the NDP LGBTQ Critic Randall Garrison. Neither racial justice nor LGBTQ2+ justice can be served in a platform statement that’s only a few paragraphs long. These issues require so much more.

So I trust that these are coming from Jagmeet and they will be the strongest platforms. He has the best activists here.

There has also been criticism that he hasn’t said much on immigration. The NDP Immigration Critic Jenny Kwan has also endorsed Jagmeet. So, I think it’s safe to say that another comprehensive platform is coming in this area.

These three areas deserve nothing less than a big comprehensive platform, and not a couple paragraphs filled with performative talking points, but instead filled with true understanding of the very basics of these issues.

How My Ranked Ballot Will Look and How I Got There

When Jagmeet first entered the race, Ashton moved to my number two spot. Then, she kept making statements that erase 50% of trans people, which eventually moved her to fourth. Then Angus aligned himself with a group who want trans people removed from society, so Ashton moved up to three. After last night, Ashton is back to the fourth spot and my ballot will now look this:

  1. Jagmeet Singh
  2. Guy Caron
  3. Charlie Angus
  4. Niki Ashton

I’m not going to tell you how to vote. What I will tell you to do, if these issues are important to you, is:

  1. Register to become a member of the NDP. Your membership pays for both provincial and federal membership.
  2. Once you receive email receipt saying you paid for your membership, register to vote online.

Do the above before August 17, 2017!

I hope you stand united with the people of colour and the LGBTQ2+ community who are tired of being used as props to attack each other. Especially when LGBTQ2+ people of colour are hurt the most.


*Correction: It was pointed out to me in the comments that during Ashton’s announcement speech, she did explicitly state that Black Lives Matter. I had done a search for other candidates explicitly stating this, and looked on Ashton’s website, and couldn’t find anything. I did another search looking for full videos of her announcement speech and found where she stated this. Thank you for the correction, Emily.

18 Responses to Coded Language in the #ndpldr Debate and Why I’m Supporting Jagmeet Singh

  1. I am not going to negate the people quoted here or their experiences, that isn’t my place, but I am sure you could find many others from the same communities who would disagree with these statements. I can only personally speak from my experience as a gay child of a marriage between an immigrant and a conservative christian. It was very clear their refers to those opposed to LGBT rights in my case that would have been both of my parents(at the time, my mother has since become a fierce advocate for me), one who was born in Canada and is white, the other an immigrant, their could have referred to either of them. This is not about pitting one marginalized group against another it is about asking a politician to explain why he advocated for a very problematic anti LGBT perspective to be given a forum. That is a fair question, and attacking the messenger in this case Ashton doesn’t change the fact that Singh’s actions were problematic. In terms of the racial justice and gender policies Ashton built those with committees made up of those most affected, she did not come up with them on her own and prescribe what she thought other marginalized people needed. Her platforms go further than his, this doesn’t negate that he has more personal experience with these concerns (in the case of racial justice, less so in the case of gender issues) but it is objectively true that her solutions go quite a bit further. Taking the only candidate to specifically reach out to the trans community and include their concerns in her platform thus far, this doesn’t mean she shouldn’t continue to listen and take feedback and do better but characterizing her as an anti trans racist is a character attack

    • I never once said she is an anti trans racist. What she has done and said is problematic, full stop. She hasn’t consulted with the trans community. Multiple times, people from the trans community have tried to reach out to her and open a dialogue on these issues. When we have, she has made empty promises to fix some very problematic and harmful aspects of her platform. Blocking people who have voices very valid criticism of her platform demonstrates the exact opposite of someone who is open and inclusive and willing to listen about issues about which she does not understand.

      She has not only cisplained to trans people but so have her supporters. You can’t be a leader of a party if you are unwilling to listen to the valid concerns of the people she may be representing and admit to mistakes then correct them to make sure all voices effected by these policies are heard, recognized and policies created that will actually address the issues.

      And if you think the other candidates haven’t reached out to the trans community, then you are mistaken. Policies aren’t a game of “first”. Policies such of these need a lot more than what has been put out.

      Singh supporters were hoping he would have the opportunity to speak on the sex ed issue because of all the misinformation that has been going around. What has upset people is that the language Ashton used was misleading and divisive. This has no place in NDP politics. It’s unbelievable the amount of extra attacks people who support Singh have received from people who support Ashton. This is not a good look.

      And if you can’t understand that and don’t want to listen to trans people who are saying Ashton’s platform is harmful, then I can’t help you to understand. It doesn’t matter if a handful of trans people are okay with the platform. I hate using the words “internalized transphobia” because it is often used as a weapon, but there are a lot of trans people are okay with table scraps and harmful policies because at least it’s something. I’ve been an activist for far to long on trans issues to be okay with table scraps from the only party that has consistently fought for my right to be treated equally. When Garrison endorsed Singh over Ashton, it became clear to the majority of trans people where we’ll be seen and heard, and the issues will be full consultation before a policy is released.

      • Cheri DiNovo’s endorsement means as much as Randall Garrison’s when it comes to LGBT issues. I will not argue that ignoring the trans communities concerns is wrong and I am not here to cisplain as it is not my place. I know many activists personally who are not happy to take crumbs in the trans community who are supporting Ashton. They can have that conversation with you if they so choose. When it comes to trans issues I can only listen to what others are telling me. When it comes to gay issues though I have a personal perspective and yes found Singh’s approach to the sex ed issue to be a problem. It was fair to ask him about it. It was also clear that their did not refer to POC but to people opposed to LGBT inclusive sex education. If Singh or another candidate or moderator wants to ask about what happened on twitter when she ignored or blocked trans activists with concerns that would be fair game too.

  2. “Then Angus aligned himself with a group who want trans people removed from society.”

    Can you clarify this? I’m a big Charlie supporter and I know him to be a progressive and advocate and ally of top order. This seems like a comment that needs a little context to help one understand what that’s about. Just seems like a blindside as written in an article not about Charlie.

    • The only reason I didn’t clarify more in the article was because it increases the problem we are currently seeing of pitting people of colour/faith against the LGBTQ2+ community.

      Angus has embraced an endorsement from a couple of Muslim activists who loudly, and with violent language, protested the Ontario sex ed curriculum. If you search “Farina Siddiqui lgbt”, you’ll see Rebel Media praise her on her stance on these issues. You can’t build bridges on one issue while burning them on another. It’s a very problematic endorsement that has hurt many in the LGBTQ2+ community, especially those of colour.

      • Its important to clarify as when I read “aligned himself with a group who want trans people removed from society” it reads like he has the belief that trans people should not exist and that’s quite a claim to see!

        Its one thing to not want to be seen to be pitting people of colour or faith against the LGBTQ2+ community but you make it sound like a candidate who has been attacked for being “another old white guy” has these beliefs. Here’s the story from the National Post:

        Its in no way true and in fact Charlie made sure this was noted when he received the endorsements.

        Angus said he doesn’t share that belief, but said there are other areas where their views align. “I’m a bridge-builder,” he said. “I agree with the progressive Muslim community on inclusion and on fairness.”

        He said his own background is Catholic, and he still receives support from the Catholic community even though they sometimes disagree on social issues.

        “I’ve had people who go to mass and wear the pro-life sign and still support me,” he said.

        Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay, said he’s connected with Muslim activists in part through their interest in Indigenous issues. He said many young Muslims identify with Shannen Koostachin, a teenager from Attawapiskat First Nation who fought for better education for Indigenous children.

        “There’s some really strong social justice, community components in the Muslim community,” he said.

        “They really want to be part of making reconciliation and making a more just, inclusive Canada happen.”

        In a statement provided to the Post, Siddiqui said she supports Angus “because of his bold voice to denounce Islamophobia, antisemitism and all forms of discrimination against First Nations people. Charlie is a bridge-builder and his work with Indigenous youth has inspired me in my community work.”

        Angus has also received an endorsement from Farooq Khan, executive director of the North American Muslim Foundation. “Charlie’s voice echoes our shared values and together, we can build a more inclusive country,” he said in a statement. The foundation also opposed Ontario’s sex-ed reforms.

        • Also, I would note that it is likely all candidates have endorsements from individuals who might hold controvertial views on some things most progressives agree on – I imagine Jagmeet has the support of some persons who are anti-choice or anti-LGBTQ2+ but I don’t think for a minute Jagmeet is anti-choice or anti-LGBTQ2+.

          You may not know this but Charlie was denied Eucharist for his stands on gay marriage and being pro-choice. I think Jagmeet has had some similar experiences and acted in the same way supporting progressive values.

          Your vague line does a real disservice to another candidate in a drive by smearing (though I dont think that was your intention) that I wouldn’t want to see happen to Jagmeet or any other candidate.

          • I’ve read Angus’ statements on this. I’ve had to have this conversation with a lot of Angus supporters and I’m happy to have it. I think Charlie is a wonderful person and I respect his supporters. I know that Charlie has been denied Eucharist.

            Here’s my personal issue: You can’t stop people from endorsing you. But you don’t have to embrace the endorsement, especially from someone who has yelled through a megaphone about “shoving their agenda down our children’s throats.” That is dog whistle language. Angus says he wants to build bridges. I truly believe he means it. There are a lot of groups where ethnicity and religion intersect that are also pro-LGBTQ+ that could have been pursued and embraced.

            When he made the comment that you quoted, he basically said, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree in some areas” instead of pushing back on their rhetoric. That’s a nope for me. He could have used different language to make it clear he won’t be conceding on certain issues. You don’t want to know the types of attacks I’ve had to deal with because I’m openly trans and am an activist. Every time I talk about these issues, I get attacked. Since the debate, my websites have had multiple DDoS attacks. I’ve been doxed. I’ve had people contact my places of freelance employment and say horrible things in a hope to get my contract terminated. I’ve had people phone the RCMP and tell them I make my children participate in child porn. I’ve had literal shit mailed to my house. I don’t have the luxury of hoping that Charlie isn’t going to become shofter on these issues because of who he is listening to. Or risk the chance he’s going to leave this issues open to a free vote to keep certain people happy. When I hear “agree to disagree”, I also hear CPC “free votes on abortion”.

            I also appreciate you pointing out that it could be read as smearing. You are correct, it wasn’t my intention. As I said, I’m not going to tell people how to vote. I respect everyone’s vote and encourage them rank their ballots as they see fit. I appreciate the dialogue we are having because it is a dialogue and it’s respectful. What I don’t appreciate is misleading and divisive comments coming out from certain camps of supporters. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to clarify my position on Charlie.

          • Thank you Jules for the reply, the clarification and the background on why you might have these feelings. Its a tough one because Niki’s attack on Jagmeet is about using soft/conciliatory language on this issue and though I don’t agree with Niki on this characterization of what Jagmeet did I can understand why some might feel that way.

            Same with you and Charlie’s statement.

            I also appreciate how you got there though based on your lived experience. It is a tough thing to figure out. I know I have worked with our local mosque (and other religious groups including mostly white and christian ones) on social justice issues despite my knowing they have some homophobic or trans phobic beliefs. When you live in a community where the ONLY homeless shelter is also a space where they also offer anti-gay, pray the gay away “therapies” it creates a conflict.

            I know Charlie and Jagmeet have both found themselves in similar situations by their own admission.

            I squared this by penning a strong editorial lambasting the church for this specific thing while still supporting the arms length shelter portion. I spoke out – like I have seen Charlie and Jagmeet do.

            I’ve also had to come to the realization that I can help found the local Pride organization in my town, be public and loud about it and be an ally and advocate and still work with persons of faith on other social justice issues. I wont bend in my actions but I can’t turn everyone away who I disagree with either on other issues. They can know where I stand and I can know where they stand.

            I have found that has changed more minds through that relationship and bridge building than other tactics but then again I’m not targetted in the same way you have been.

            Empathy and warmth for you on this journey and thanks for considering many thoughts on an excellent post. When writing these things you really put yourself out there and I appreciate it even if im not in lockstep agreement.

          • Thank you for the conversation. I truly appreciate having the opportunity to have a true open dialogue on these critical issues.

          • I feel as though Ma is on to something here:

            I took your suggested search to “Farina Siddiqui lgbt” and read (CBC) that her reasons for removing her kid from school was very similar to Jagmeet’s problem with the sex-ed curriculum (which I believe is the same Ontario-wide one? Is that correct?) – that it began too young, that parents didn’t have proper consultation, and the sometimes difficult to quantify “parents know best for their children” (which is where the comment “it sounds Conservative” comes from imo). This is my best attempt and understanding the article, and we all have different interpretations. Please let me know if I am misunderstanding.

            Could you clarify “aligned himself with a group”? What is the group?

            What Ma said re: supporters of candidates having challenging views and candidates working with those that disagree with them is apt. We need to work together with those who have differing views in this country and show them that equality creates a stronger and more caring society. The richness that comes from vast differences in life experience. Warts and all. Canada must do this so that we can move towards greater equality.

            I think there’s also an element of young politicians involved: Jagmeet’s use of “diversity of beliefs” and Niki’s addition of “it was supported by the LGBTQ community” were both very open to scrutiny. So this seems fair game to me. I learned a great deal from both candidates on this single 2 minute exchange by going home to read more about it.

            I enjoyed reading your whole piece here, and I will read more about Niki’s conduct with those in the trans community asking her to do better, and her ignoring those requests.

            Thanks for the space to discuss!

          • You may be misunderstanding? There is a video with her with a megaphone using dog whistle language and I am not going to post it because I don’t want it to get more views. Please trust me when I say, it’s more than the ‘normal’ issues we hear from parents who are socially conservative.

            And yes, we need to work together. And if cis people want to have open dialogues on and learn how to be true and good allies and do that work without appropriation, then I will support that. For me personally, it’s about policies and potential votes in Commons that will do me direct harm and having to protect not only my safety but my family’s safety. So, I’m voting in a way that I feel my concerns and issues will be truly listened to, and apologies and changes will be made if necessary. I’m suspicious of people who can’t admit to when they may have made a mistake. Owning up to mistakes and saying sorry is a sign of bravery and integrity, not flip-flopping. It means you’ve learned something new and are willing to act accordingly.

            Thank you for the respectful dialogue!

  3. That is a very nice defence of Jagmeet Singh, aside from the fact that it is just a pack of lies.

    Jagmeet Singh, during the debate, said that he was not siding with the conservatives on the matter of Ontario sex education curriculum, but rather he was criticizing the fact that the info was not provided in multiple languages. That would be a very principled stance, if it was true. Except it isn’t true. It is a lie.

    The Conservatives ran a campaign against the curriculum saying that it was inappropriate to talk about the LGBQT community to children. That is the media angle they played. That was the position they took.

    What was Jagmeet Singh’s position? Well, this is what he said in the Ontario Legislature on the issue.

    “Many people agree that health education is important, but my constituents have sought clarification about the age appropriateness of some materials. My constituents deserve to have their voices heard, and the government has a responsibility to address their concerns.”

    In other words, his position was the same as the conservatives.

    It is fine to say that perhaps he was feeling pressure from members of his riding, and perhaps decided to raise their concerns (fueled by Conservative hysteria) on the issue. But lets not distort the actual facts here. He clearly sided with the Conservatives, for whatever reason.

    • You want to know what is misleading? You taking Singh’s quote out of context. Here is what comes after the part you quotes:

      “I’ve raised this issue four times now with the government. There need to be ongoing consultations where clarification can be sought and answers provided. I urge the government to sit down with parents and allow an open dialogue before implementing changes to the curriculum in September.”

      The consultation he wanted was parents having the ability to ask questions from those who will be implementing the curriculum, and allowing the policy makers to put their fears to rest about age-appropriateness.

      He didn’t want the curriculum to be changed. He wanted it to be implemented as is. His voting record also shows this. He wanted more opportunities for parents to get qualified answers from educators instead of misinformation and fear from the streets.

      BC has a much more progressive sex ed curriculum than Ontario. We also faced these issues when the new curriculum was implemented. We faced these issues when I helped to write school policies for teachers, students, and parents who are trans. Each time, the school board puts out an open call for questions from parents to ask the school board directly about any concerns. That consultation process never ends. It’s the only way we can put parents’ concerns to rest because there is a lot of lies that come from the right about what these policies and what the curriculum means.

  4. And also lets not forget this from Daily Xtra article “New Democrats? It’s time for an Intervention”

    “Second, some of your MPPs and candidates have been contributing to anti-sex-education hysteria, particularly among suburban and newcomer communities in and around Toronto. While the spontaneous organization of some parents against Ontario’s new sex-ed curriculum would likely have happened without help, the groups received early support from the Ontario NDP’s deputy leader Jagmeet Singh.

    Singh’s self-serving criticism of the curriculum, and the harsh words from provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath on the subject, is helping undo more than a decade of work by activists to help improve access to information and safety for LGBT youth in schools.”

  5. I’m not sure why you say that Singh was the first (and only) candidate to mention Black Lives Matter when Niki Ashton has both stated explicitly that Black lives matter and praised Black Lives Matter for their activism. Two notable public occasions are her announcement speech and the first debate (before Singh announced his candidacy).

    The plagiarism accusation is a bit odd. First, we should not be shocked that candidates of the NDP share similar critiques of current racial justice policy, or lack thereof. This extends to other policy matters too, making the candidates’ records on the issue the next consideration. Ashton’s engagement with activists defends her platform well. Second, these critiques or policies have been discussed and promoted by many activist groups for decades, depending on the issue. If Ashton plagiarized Singh, Ashton plagiarized activists – but this is clearly not the case because Ashton has publicly credited notable activists on this front.

    Finally, I was glad to hear Singh’s answer on the matter, as it entirely different from what was commonly reported at the time. This is an issue I was hoping to get raised, and the manner in which it did – to my understanding – did not pit POC against LGBTQ+. It was a question that needed to get asked and Singh’s answer relieved my own concerns.

    (As for Ashton and her campaign not engaging with trans people and activists – well, I certainly agree, that is unacceptable and she should be held to account.)

    • First, I’d like to thank you for pointing out my mistake re Black Lives Matter. I’ll update the post accordingly. I did a search for other candidates’ mentions and it came up empty. I also must have missed it during the first debate. I will correct the mistake.

      As for the plagiarism, I can only speak to what I can glean from the conversations. I think people are taking issue with her comment “which is the most comprehensive platform” after Singh pointed out a crucial element that is part of his platform that is not mentioned in hers. I think frustration is coming from people who say Singh hasn’t talked about these issues, when he has extensively. The difference is: It’s not formally up on his website yet. This has turned into a game of “first” where people are not giving credit to work done unless it has been released on a website. Singh has also released a mini-platform about Palestine, and people are accusing him of not speaking about the issue. “Plagiarism” is probably not the best word.

      I think people are just really frustrated that Singh has talked about all these issues and people are accusing him of being silent on them. Other candidates have also spoken about these issues and the “only campaign” and “most comprehensive” language is dismissive. Not only of Singh’s campaign but all of the campaigns. The plagiarism charge isn’t one of my own, just to be clear. But, it has been part of the conversation on Twitter, with some camps of supporters being dismissive and mocking, and creating graphics that dismiss everything Singh has said on these topics when supporters point out that Singh has spoken to specific topics. And it’s not just Singh supporters pointing out Singh’s record. It’s disturbing to witness.

      As for your final point, and I said it in another response, the issue isn’t with the question being asked, but the misleading and divisive language that was used when asking it. There have been many people of colour/faith and LGBTQ2+ people who have said it was pitting language and they felt like they were being used as props. I even quoted some of them here. There were a lot more if you want to look at the #ndpldr hashtag from that night. By saying “to my understanding” you are dismissing what people are saying about the language she used. You’ll also see a long of Singh supporters saying they are happy Singh is getting a chance to set the record straight and clear up the misinformation. All of the criticism is about the language used when doing it; not that he was made to clarify.

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