Veteran NDP MP and former leadership contender Peter Julian has endorsed Jagmeet Singh to lead his party, opting to back an exciting newcomer to federal politics over either of his three colleagues in Parliament.
Julian made his support official Thursday with a release touting Singh, an Ontario MPP, for his ability to bring new members into the party.
"We'll need Jagmeet's energy if we hope to defeat (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau in 2019," Julian said. "When I compare Jagmeet to Trudeau and (Conservative Leader Andrew) Scheer, I know Jagmeet has already surpassed their fundraising and been competitive with their membership recruitment in their respective leadership runs.
"We'll need Jagmeet's ability to attract such a talented team to grow our Party and to win in 2019."
Julian lauded Singh as a strong social democrat, complimenting his efforts in the provincial legislature to fight against police carding.
"He ran in a riding where we had never won, and has transformed that community into solid NDP territory," Julian said in the release, referring to Singh's victory in the provincial riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton in 2011.
We'll need Jagmeet's energy if we hope to defeat Trudeau in 2019.Peter Julian
Singh became the first NDP MPP to represent the Peel Region.
"Jagmeet has demonstrated remarkable talent to communicate with diverse communities right across Canada," Julian said.
Singh said in a statement that Julian was key to the NDP's breakthrough success in 2011, particularly in Quebec.
"He has selflessly organized for a better world since he was a teenager," Singh said of the MP.
Julian, who was first elected in 2004 and represents the B.C. riding of New Westminster-Burnaby, dropped out of the race in July, citing poor fundraising. At the time, Julian boasted the most endorsements, including the support of well-known Quebec MP Alexandre Boulerice.
Singh told HuffPost Canada in July that Julian was the first rival to congratulate him once he jumped in the race and that the two share "a lot of the same values."
"He is someone that I got along with on the trail. He's one of the candidates that was the warmest to me," Singh said at the time.
But at a debate in St. John's, Nfld. in June, Julian pushed Singh on his reluctance to make it clear where he stood on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline.
"We have a situation where British Columbians have said no. We have the federal caucus who has said no. There is a very clear consensus among New Democrats,'' Julian said.
"I do not understand your hesitation about saying no to a project that has such a profound downside for British Columbians.''
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Days after that debate, Singh came out against the Kinder Morgan and Energy East pipelines.
Julian's endorsement likely would have been welcomed by the three MPs in the race: Ontario's Charlie Angus, Quebec's Guy Caron, and Manitoba's Niki Ashton.
Caron, however, recently scored some big backers of his own: former federal NDP leader Alexa McDonough and Brian Topp, a respected strategist who finished second in the 2012 NDP leadership race.
Julian's endorsement comes less than two weeks before more than 124,000 NDP members start voting for their next leader.
With files from The Canadian Press