OTTAWA — Jagmeet Singh rejects the notion that he’s a political lightweight.
“I don’t buy that,” the NDP leader said in an interview Friday. He begins listing reasons why: he was a member of the Ontario legislature for eight years, served as deputy NDP House leader and was considered the “third most prolific speaker” in that assembly.
He suggests the knock against his political experience is tied to the fact that he’s the first non-white leader of a federal party. “There’s this notion that if someone doesn’t look like the perception of what a leader looks like, they make that argument,” he said. “I don’t think it holds merit.”
Singh is in a Winnipeg hotel room. It’s barely 8 a.m. and he’s about to head to Ottawa for the last leg of his book tour. His memoir, “Love & Courage” was released last week and has been praised for its honesty about his experiences with racism and overcoming the trauma of sexual abuse.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 20, 2019
Political differences aside, I want to commend @theJagmeetSingh for sharing his story about abuse and racism. Your courage and openness will help others deal with their pain and spark more discussion.
— Tim S. Uppal (@TimUppal) April 21, 2019
“Love & Courage” is a quick 309-page read that guides readers through this politician’s life before politics. Singh is proud of his time in the provincial legislature, but that period is given one cursory paragraph in the book’s epilogue: “Together, we put an end to the Ontario police’s carding practices… And we fought to finally call the Sikh genocide what it was.”
The title mirrors the slogan used to launch Singh’s NDP leadership campaign in 2017. But the book was purposefully light on political content, he explained.
He said he left out partisan politics to “make this a story that focuses on some of the personal struggles that I’ve faced” and to keep it “really readable” for Canadians.
Despite the timing of its release, less than six months before a federal election, Singh claims he didn’t use the book as an opportunity to map out his vision of Canada and its problems. “I use my platform to do that all the time,” he explained. “Every day that I’ve been a leader, I’ve been putting forward our vision.”
Watch: Jagmeet Singh takes his seat in the House of Commons
In “Love & Courage,” Singh writes about the challenges his family experienced as immigrants, such as his father’s struggle to have his international professional training as a doctor recognized in Canada.
He reaches out to visible minorities by addressing topics such as language attrition — the process of losing a first language. Singh spent time as a toddler in India, and returned to Canada able to speak in full Panjabi sentences. But his parents decided to speak mostly English at home to help him fit in at school. The decision had consequences.
“Not speaking my parents’ language had left a gulf between them and me. When I finally spoke our mother tongue with my parents, I felt a new bond form between us,” he writes in the book.
Singh frequently uses pop culture as a touchstone. There’s a childhood anecdote of using the money his dad gave him to buy cassettes of francophone singers Patrick Bruel and Roch Voisine at the mall, and how he listened to Radio-Canada as a kid for impromptu French lessons.
‘Love & Courage’ was a ‘healing’ process: Singh
Singh is a new British Columbian, moving there shortly before being elected in February as the MP for Burnaby South. He arrived on the West Coast after spending years living in the Toronto area, Newfoundland and Labrador, and southwestern Ontario.
When his family moved from Newfoundland and Labrador to Ontario in 1986, he describes the culture shock after learning the Atlantic province’s tradition of building big beachside bonfires and singalongs wasn’t one shared by the rest of the country.
Singh elaborates on schoolyard taunts that followed him, and how he began taking martial arts lessons to get tougher.
He recalls playing basketball in Grade 3 when another kid called him “Little Nipplehead,” mocking Singh’s patka — the cloth worn by Sikh children to cover their hair bun. Young Singh caught the bully off guard by shoving him to the ground.
Aside from the vignettes of a multicultural Canadian upbringing, Singh also tackles some difficult matters of the heart. The martial arts lessons were also a way to learn self-defence to help protect his mother and siblings against a belligerent father at home. Singh discloses details of his father’s alcoholism — an addiction which strained and maimed the relationships around him.
He describes the anger and disappointment in finding bottles of Russian Prince vodka hidden under sinks and in drawers around the family home.
There’s a particularly heartbreaking scene where Singh writes about visiting his dad in 2007 — estranged from his family and living alone — and finding crumpled lottery tickets strewn throughout the apartment. The memory ends with Singh carrying his gaunt father, his body marked by addiction and neglect, to the bathroom to bathe him.
His father tries to make small talk to make the moment less awkward by asking his son, “You’re a lawyer now?” He was. Singh had been called to the bar a year earlier.
Singh said the year-long writing process was a cathartic release that forced him to step back and examine his life so far.
Much praise has been shown for Singh in the past week after he described the sexual abuse he experienced as a 10-year-old boy at the hands of his taekwondo instructor.
Singh said it took nearly a decade to break through the walls of shame and guilt he built around the experience to even talk about it with another person. He was 25 when he told his mother. He told his dad during the process of writing this memoir.
“I feel like for healing, the ultimate healing is not just when you just heal yourself, but when you’re in a point where you can then take whatever you’ve gone through and try to help others,” he told HuffPost Canada in an interview. He wanted to send a message to survivors who have gone through harassment and abuse that it’s “not your fault.”
“Sometimes when you go through abuse, you kind of feel like you don’t deserve to be happy. You don’t deserve love. You feel tainted … just reject that and tell people you do deserve to be happy and to have love and to have a good life.”
In the acknowledgements at the end of “Love & Courage,” there’s a shout-out to the Windsor, Ont. clinic that admitted Singh’s father after neither his savings nor insurance could cover the expense: “Thank you to Brentwood Rehabilitation, a publicly funded rehabilitation centre that, in many ways, helped to save my family.
— Indigo Events (@indigogreenroom) April 23, 2019
It’s not uncommon for political leaders or figures, who are not household names, to release memoirs during an election year. The books and press tours are a strategic way to familiarize voters with a name before they go to the polls.
Singh’s memoir is light on politics, but his story has given him opportunities to reiterate his support for social programs. “My family relied on them, I relied on them,” he said.
He plugs his party’s “pharmacare for all” plan and talks about the environment and a need to “passionately” defend it, adding that his NDP supports creating an economy that’s more inclusive.
Asked what new audience he’s trying to reach with his memoir, Singh said, “Just all Canadians, really.”
More from HuffPost Canada:
Nine hours later, Singh is no longer in Winnipeg. He’s at a Chapters in downtown Ottawa signing copies of his book, embracing friends, and making small talk with people who’ve lined up to see him. The media-savvy federal leader walks toward a photographer and gives him advice on which angles will make a better shot.
A young man walks up to Singh and hands him a card. He says he wants to thank him for his work as a politician.
Singh, who is standing in front of a table and chair for the book signing, is moved and hugs the young man. He doesn’t want to sit down because he prefers to be on his feet.
It’s better to meet people with no objects in between, he explains; you get a more genuine interaction this way.
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19-year-old kills 1, wounds rabbi and 2 others at synagogue
POWAY, Calif. (AP) — A 19-year-old gunman opened fire inside a synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday, killing a woman and wounding the rabbi and two others Saturday, authorities said.
President Donald Trump and other elected officials decried what they called an anti-Semitic attack exactly six months since 11 people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest assault on Jews in U.S. history.
There were indications an AR-type assault weapon might have malfunctioned after the gunman, identified as John Earnest, fired numerous rounds inside the Chabad of Poway, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said.
An off-duty Border Patrol agent working as a security guard fired at the shooter as he ran away, missing him but striking his getaway vehicle, San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said.
Shortly after fleeing, Earnest called 911 to report the shooting, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said. When an officer reached him on a roadway, “the suspect pulled over, jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,” Nisleit said.
‘THIS MUST STOP’: Reaction to the synagogue shooting
A gunman opened fire inside a synagogue near San Diego on Saturday as worshippers celebrated the last day of Passover, authorities said. The attack came exactly six months after 11 people were killed by a gunman at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October.
A sampling of reaction to Saturday’s shooting:
“THIS MUST STOP. We are heartbroken — and appalled and outraged — by the news of the attack at the Poway Synagogue near San Diego today. This must stop. It was only six months ago to the day that we became members of that tragic club of community-based shootings to which no one wants to belong. We know first-hand the fear, anguish and healing process such an atrocity causes, and our hearts are with the afflicted San Diego families and their congregation. We will not give in to H(asterisk). We send our love and prayers to the Chabbad families. These senseless acts of violence and prejudice must end. Enough is enough!” — Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, site of the October shooting that killed 11, in a statement.
4 die after construction crane crushes cars in Seattle
SEATTLE (AP) — Four people died and three were injured when a construction crane on the new Google Seattle campus collapsed Saturday, pinning six cars underneath.
One female and three males were dead by the time firefighters got to the scene, Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said. Two of the dead were ironworkers, not crane operators, as had been previously stated, and the two others were people who had been in cars, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Saturday night.
A 25-year-old mother and her 4-month-old daughter were in a car that was smashed by the crane, but both managed to escape with only minor injuries, Durkan said. They and a 28-year-old man were taken to Harborview Medical Center, Seattle Fire spokesman Lance Garland said. A fourth person also was injured and treated at the scene.
Harbourview spokeswoman Susan Gregg said Saturday night that the mother and baby had been discharged, while the man injured was in satisfactory condition.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office said it would not release names of people who died until Monday.
Oliver North out as NRA president after leadership dispute
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Oliver North announced Saturday that he would not serve a second term as National Rifle Association president, making it clear he had been forced out by the gun lobby’s leadership after his own failed attempt to remove the NRA’s longtime CEO in a burgeoning divide over the group’s finances and media operations.
“Please know I hoped to be with you today as NRA president endorsed for reelection. I’m now informed that will not happen,” North said in a statement that was read by Richard Childress, the NRA’s first vice-president, to members at the group’s annual convention.
North, whose one-year term ends Monday, did not show up for the meeting, and his spot on the stage was left empty, his nameplate still in its place. His statement was largely met with silence. Wayne LaPierre, whom North had tried to push out, later received two standing ovations.
It was a stunning conclusion to a battle between two conservative and Second Amendment titans — North, the retired Marine lieutenant colonel with a ramrod demeanour who was at the centre of the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, and LaPierre, who has been battle-tested in the decades since he took up the mantle of gun rights. He has fought back challenges that have arisen over the decades, seemingly emerging unscathed each time. In this latest effort, he pushed back against North, telling members of the NRA’s board of directors that North had threatened to release “damaging” information about him to them and saying it amounted to an “extortion” attempt.
Hundreds of the NRA’s estimated 5 million members packed into the convention centre in Indianapolis where the group’s annual meetings were being held. Near the end of the two-hour meeting, some members challenged efforts to adjourn and pushed to question the board about controversies involving its financial management, the relationship with its longtime public relations firm and details of what North sought to raise about alleged misspending, sexual harassment and other mismanagement.
Trump cheers economy, criticizes Democrats at Wis. rally
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — President Donald Trump boasted of a strong economy and criticized his Democratic presidential opponents Saturday night as he rallied supporters with familiar themes.
Trump pointed to the economy’s 3.2% growth in the first quarter before drawing even more applause by citing gains in employment and reductions in family poverty in Wisconsin. The state helped propel Trump’s 2016 victory, and Democrats are focused on reclaiming its electoral votes in 2020.
Turning to presidential politics, the president had a suggestion for members of the Democratic Party.
“They should change that to the Radical Left Democrat Party,” he told a crowd that nearly filled the 10,500-seat Risch Center in Green Bay. “It’s crazy what’s going on with them. Oh, do I look forward to running against them.”
It was a signal that what the president and Republicans have been saying about Democrats for months could be a lasting part of his reelection campaign story. Trump, who loves branding opponents, pointed to the Green New Deal, abortion rights policy and the self-described socialism of prominent Democrats to paint the whole party as radical.
Trump’s executive privilege strategy could mean messy fight
WASHINGTON (AP) — Since George Washington’s time, presidents have used executive privilege to resist congressional inquiries in the name of protecting the confidentiality of their decision-making.
President Donald Trump threatened this past week to broadly assert executive privilege to block a number of current and former aides from testifying, including some who have co-operated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. It’s a strategy that could lead to a messy, protracted legal fight, but even if the White House is eventually defeated in court, the president and his allies could have the chance to run out the clock to the 2020 election.
“This is all about delaying things. The strategy of every administration is to drag it out,” said the University of Virginia’s Saikrishna Prakash, an expert on presidential power.
Trump in recent days has complained about House Democrats stepping up their investigations in the aftermath of the special counsel’s probe , which ended last month without concluding the president colluded with Russia or obstructed justice.
“With all of this transparency, we finished ‘no collusion, no obstruction,’” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. “Then I get out, the first the day they’re saying, ‘Let’s do it again.’ And I said, ‘That’s enough.’”
Juul nicotine hit may be ‘Worst for kids, best for smokers’
WASHINGTON (AP) — She tried gums, patches and various electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. What finally worked for Chantel Williams was a small, reusable e-cigarette called Juul that packs a big nicotine punch.
“I look better. I feel better and I don’t smell. It’s fantastic,” said Williams of Portland, Oregon, who smoked for decades.
That nicotine hit and its easy-to-inhale vapour is one reason why Juul is so popular — and so feared.
“That’s the trouble with Juul: It’s probably the worst for kids but it might be the best for adult smokers,” said Dr. Nancy Rigotti, a tobacco treatment specialist at Harvard Medical School.
The brainchild of two Stanford University design students, Juul launched in 2015 and quickly leapfrogged over its competitors to become the top-selling e-cigarette in the U.S. Today, the privately held company controls nearly three-quarters of the $3.7 billion-dollar retail market for e-cigarettes, spawning dozens of copycat brands along the way.
With churches shut after bombs, Sri Lankans hear Mass on TV
AMPARA, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s Catholics on Sunday awoke to celebrate Mass in their homes by a televised broadcast as churches across the island nation shut over fears of militant attacks, a week after the Islamic State-claimed Easter suicide bombings killed over 250 people.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, delivered a homily before members of the clergy and the country’s leaders in a small chapel at his Colombo residence — an extraordinary measure underlining the fear still gripping this nation of 21 million people.
“This is a time our hearts are tested by the great destruction that took place last Sunday,” Ranjith said. “This is a time questions such as, does God truly love us, does He have compassion towards us, can arise in human hearts.”
In a rare show of unity, President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa attended the Mass. Their political rivalry and government dysfunction are blamed for a failure act upon near-specific information received from foreign intelligence agencies that preceded the bombings.
All Sri Lankan churches were asked to ring bells while the lamp lighting takes place.
PBS film ‘KOREA’ eyes social, political tolls of Korean War
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — To escape the poverty of South Texas migrant camps, Homer Garza joined the U.S. Army. Months later he and his company found themselves surrounded in South Korea by an invading North Korean force.
Garza’s story is one of many shared in the PBS documentary “KOREA: The Never-Ending War.” The film, a production of WETA Washington, is scheduled to air on most PBS stations Monday and examines the lasting social and political costs of the Korean War — a conflict largely forgotten in the U.S. It also tells the story of a war that redefined the region from the perspective of families, U.S. veterans and journalists.
Filmmaker John Maggio said he wanted to create something that wasn’t focused on solely on views of ambassadors and historians but real people affected by the war. In addition, he wanted his project to explain why tensions between North and South Korea remain nearly 70 years after a series of diplomatic blunders and violent massacres.
“I also was curious. My uncles fought in the Korean War and never talked about it,” Maggio said. “My granduncles were in World War II and always talked about it.”
Former CIA analyst Sue Mi Terry is among those interviewed in the film. But instead of merely laying out strategic mistakes made by the U.S., she details how an imaginary border — the 38th parallel — dreamt up by the U.S. eventually divided her family. Such painful family separations, and the legacy of violence, still define tensions that remain today.
Leonard scores 45 points, Raptors top 76ers 108-95 in Game 1
TORONTO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard wasn’t interested in putting up a career-high point total against the Philadelphia 76ers. Even as history beckoned, Toronto’s understated star was hoping he could take a seat on the bench.
Leonard scored a career playoff-high 45 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam added 29 points and the Raptors beat the 76ers 108-95 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Saturday night.
Leonard’s previous post-season high was 43, with San Antonio against Memphis on April 22, 2017. He matched that by making a pair of free throws with 4:45 remaining, then topped it by draining a jump shot on Toronto’s next possession.
Although he appeared focused on reaching the mark, the opposite was actually true.
“I was trying to get out of the game before it got to that point,” Leonard said. “We were up 20 points with probably like five minutes left and I was already looking at the bench, trying to get them to take me out of the game.”
The Associated Press
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HUGO, Okla. — The Latest on the shooting and wounding of three children by police in Oklahoma (all times local):
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says three children wounded when a police officer fired at a robbery suspect suffered non-life threatening injuries.
OSBI spokeswoman Brook Arbeitman said Saturday that the 5-, 4-, and 1-year-old children were taken to a Tulsa-area hospital following Friday’s shooting in Hugo. Their names and conditions were not released.
Olivia Hill, the children’s mother, told KXII-TV that the 4-year-old was shot in the head, the 1-year-old in the face and that the 5-year-old has a skull fracture. Her 2-year-old child was uninjured.
Arbeitman says Hill and the 4 children were in a truck with 21-year-old robbery suspect William Devaughn Smith when gunfire broke out as officers approached him.
The mother of three children wounded when an Oklahoma officer fired at a robbery suspect says two suffered head wounds and the third was shot in the face.
Olivia Hill told KXII-TV that her 4-year-old daughter was shot in the head and her 1-year-old daughter was shot in the face. Hill said her 5-year-old child has a skull fracture. Her 2-year-old child was uninjured. The children’s names were not released.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Brooke Arbeitman said Hill and the children were in a truck with 21-year-old William Devaughn Smith when gunfire broke out as officers approached Smith in Hugo southeastern Oklahoma.
Arbeitman said Saturday that investigators have not determined whether Smith was armed or what led to the shooting that also wounded Smith. He’s in custody in a Texas jail on a robbery warrant.
This story corrects that the man is suspected of robbery.
The Associated Press
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