Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh teamed up with U.S. congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Friday night for a five-and-a-half-hour video stream of the popular game “Among Us” on Twitch with a rotating cast of several high-profile streamers.
Through the stream’s voice chat, Ocasio-Cortez and Singh talked politics in their respective countries, answered questions from the streamers and even virtually murdered each other once or twice. Nearly 100,000 viewers tuned into Ocasio-Cortez’s stream at one point, with close to 30,000 watching Singh’s stream of the event at its peak. Ocasio-Cortez also used her stream to fundraise for eviction defence legal aid efforts, food pantries and community support organizations. By the end of nearly six hours, close to $200,000 was raised.
For the uninitiated, “Among Us” is a video game based on popular party games like “Mafia” and “Werewolf” where players work together to determine who the “imposter” is, as that imposter tries to kill off the other players.
While Singh said he did several “dry runs” of the game in preparation this week, it still took him some time to grasp the basic mechanics, from not killing people in plain sight, to how to do the in-game tasks. Lying — a key component of the game — didn’t come as easily to Singh, with several of the streamers describing him as a “wholesome liar.”
The whole thing is available to watch up on Singh’s Twitch channel, but here are five highlights if you missed the Friday-night stream.
AOC and Jagmeet bond right off the bat
The stream marked the first meeting — even if virtual — between Singh and Ocasio-Cortez. The two immediately developed a casual rapport, with Ocasio-Cortez even asking Singh to call her “Alex,” since that’s what her friends call her.
She said Singh first came across her radar due to his viral response to racist comments made during a town hall.
“I think what the way I was first kind of exposed to your work was when you had this super viral moment when you encountered this woman who was being super racist at a town hall,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez praised Singh’s “compassionate” handling of the encounter, calling it a “model moment.”
And that kinship extended into the game. Throughout the stream, Singh approached Ocasio-Cortez as an ally.
“It’s the progressive politicians united, we’re not about killing people, we’re about making life better for people,” Singh said early on.
Ocasio-Cortez echoed the sentiment: “Yeah. We’re pacifists.”
Even when Singh killed another player right in Ocasio-Cortez’s view, she was hesitant to doubt her fellow leftist politician — even though he was, in fact, the killer. The two also bonded over why the fictional spaceship the game is set on still uses fossil fuels.
Later in the stream, the pair teamed up as imposters and won the game.
“AOC president, Jagmeet Singh prime minister, it’s the future,” Singh said after declaring the “dream team” victory.
AOC praises Canada
Between games, the pair chatted with the streamers about American and Canadian politics and the difference between the two. That led to some high praise from the U.S. representative about Canada’s health-care system and approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ocasio-Cortez noted that Canada is literally next-door to the U.S., but has vastly different policies.
“What’s so surprising to me is that I live in New York, Toronto is just a day’s drive away,” she said. “It’s just a stone’s throw away from being able to afford your insulin.”
Ocasio-Cortez said Canada is proof that “another world is possible.”
“Another world is possible and exists like a three hour drive away from people who say it’s impossible,” she said.
Singh noted that while Canada is far from perfect, it’s not as polarized as the U.S.
“Our electorate, the people of Canada are not as polarized,” Singh said. “You’ll have pretty horrible conservative premiers — or governors — that are bad on so many things but still acknowledge we should follow science advice.”
Singh also had his fair share of praise for his fellow politician, calling Ocasio-Cortez a “beacon of hope” for the progressive movement.
The NDP had some technical troubles throughout the stream, accidentally muting or unmuting his mic at the wrong times.
In one memorable moment, Singh unmuted as he was confessing to being the imposter.
“I thought I was muted. So rookie, so embarrassing,” he laughed.
According to the NDP leader, his staff were inspired to call the moment #JagMute, prompting plenty of memes and praise for Singh’s innocent play style on social media.
More streams in the future?
During Friday’s stream, Singh expressed his optimism at doing it again in the future as a way to reach out to young voters.
Earlier this week he ruled out streaming with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but plenty of NDP caucus members were already scheming about a potential collaboration.
And Alberta’s lone NDP MP was already trash-talking.
If you ask me, I’d love to see B.C. premier and NDP leader John Horgan say that “Among Us” is “lit.”
And even some actual news
While the stream was largely light-hearted gaming checkered by Canada-U.S. comparisons between Singh and Ocasio-Cortez, the NDP leader did manage to sneak in some actual news for astute political news watchers. About halfway through the stream, Singh hinted that his party would push for domestic COVID-19 vaccine production escalation next week.
“It really speaks to the sovereignty of your country if you can produce them yourself,” he said.
Singh was short on details about what that would look like, but the gamers got to hear it first, which was maybe the point.