• Sikh politician Jagmeet Singh has been elected to lead Canada's New Democratic Party. (Instagram/Jagmeet Singh)
Here's five things you need to know about the newly elected leader of Canada's New Democratic party.
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

3 Oct 2017 - 3:37 PM  UPDATED 3 Oct 2017 - 4:56 PM

The country that brought us Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has elevated another stylish, good looking and charismatic person to a position of political leadership.

Sikh lawyer Jagmeet Singh, 38, has been elected to lead Canada's left-leaning New Democratic party (NDP) and will go head to head with Trudeau at the 2019 federal election.

Here's five things you need to know about the Ontario lawmaker - a bachelor who commutes to work by bike, practices martial arts and is the first non-white politician to lead a major party in Canada.

He's one well-dressed man

With a well-groomed beard, an array of colourful turbans, and a penchant for Tom Ford suits, Singh cuts a striking figure.

Buzzfeed called him "the most stylish politician in Canada by like a million kilometres", Toronto Life voted him one of their best dressed people, and in 2015 he was a celebrity model in the charity fashion show #mensfashion4hope. 

"A beard and a turban sometimes conjure up negative associations, but if you see someone with a lime coloured, bright orange, or pink turban, it disarms people's stereotypical notions of this image and it disarms people from those stereotypes," he told GQ.

"If people are going to stare at me, I might as well give them something to look at."

Known for his tailored suits - sometimes designed by himself - Singh says fashion became his social armour. 

"Since being elected, I've faced criticism for caring about how I dress," he writes on Instagram.

"The truth is, like many people of colour, I don't have the privilege to not care. How people of colour dress impacts how they are perceived and treated. It is something we grapple with every day."

He's faced racism, and he knows how to deal with it

Born in Scarborough, Ontario to Indian Punjabi immigrants, Singh was bullied at school.  

"I faced some significant racism as a kid growing up with a unique identity - you know, brown skin, long hair for a boy, with a funny sounding first name like Jagmeet, while going through childhood in a small Canadian city with little diversity," he told GQ magazine.

"But because of having to deal with racism myself, I became very sensitive to unfairness. It created this appreciation and understanding of the struggles people go through from all walks of life ... poverty, gender and other systematic barriers."

In September at a 'Jagmeet and Greet' event in Brampton, Ontario, he was confronted by a woman shouting angry, Islamaphobic comments about sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Singh's reaction was caught on video, and went viral because of the way he handled the situation.

"His skill, in being able to defuse the situation, it understandably appealed to a lot of people who ended up supporting him," Christopher Cochrane, a professor of political science a the University of Toronto, told the Guardian.

His written response was just as perfect.

He believes in equality, action on climate change, reconciliation 

Years working as a lawyer defending refugees and immigrants inspired Singh to enter politics in 2011.

His Sikh spirituality also influences his political style. 

"We strongly believe in social justice as an element of our founding philosophy - that there is one energy and that we are all connected, kind of like the force. So if I see someone else suffering, as a Sikh I see that as me suffering," Singh tells GQ.

"There's this morality that flows from this idea that we are one and connected, and we celebrate diversity and people of different backgrounds, cultures and religions.

"At the end of our meditations, our mantra that we repeat roughly means "we wish the betterment of all humankind". That motivates me to help build a world that's fair and equal." 

His campaign slogan is "With Love and Courage" and he frequently talks of the importance of equality for women and LGBTQI+ people, of reconciliation with Canada's Indigenous people, of education as a right, and of action on climate change. He has spoken out against bullying, violence against women and children, and racial profiling.

His social media game is strong

His Instagram account has 84.1k followers, and not without good reason. 

Singh knows an Instagrammable background when he sees it, and takes a good photo.

Professor Cochrane says Singh's ability to connect with young people and with people in ethnic minorities will make him a "force to be reckoned with" when he runs against Trudeau in 2019.

Singh shares moments from political life, as well as many of his off-duty moments, from walking the streets of Havana, to checking out some graffiti at Bondi Beach, dining in Zurich and exploring the natural beauty of Canada, the country where he was born.  

He doesn't take himself too seriously

He might be a politician, but Singh hasn't forgotten how to enjoy himself.

Whether it's welcoming in the new year in goofy fashion...

Cutting loose on the dancefloor...

Styling himself as 'Santa Singh'...

Or punning on his own name...

Singh is one modern and media savvy politician who will be one to watch in Canada.

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