Brampton MPP faces rare challenge for NDP nomination

A former television weatherman serving as the New Democrat MPP for Brampton North is facing a rare fight for the right to run in this spring’s provincial election.

Kevin Yarde is being challenged for the NDP nomination by immigration consultant Sandeep Singh, who has been involved in the party previously and ran unsuccessfully for Caledon council in the 2018 municipal vote.

The drama is playing out in a riding Yarde won by barely 500 ballots over a Progressive Conservative rival as Premier Doug Ford and his PCs swept to power, toppling the Liberals after their 15 years in government.

“It’s not about running against him, it’s about running against the Conservatives,” Singh told the Star.

New Democrats hold three of Brampton’s five seats, while the PCs hold two and the Liberals are hoping for a comeback in a fast-growing city that will be hotly contested in the June 2 election.

Yarde, who appeared on The Weather Network for 17 years before entering politics, said he’s confident heading into an online nomination meeting on April 7, which will follow three days of balloting.

“I’m not concerned. I think the members of the riding association will vote in my favour,” he said. “They’ve seen the work I’ve done in the last four years, trying to lower the auto insurance rates, fighting to get a third hospital.”

Yarde, the first Black MPP in Peel Region, said he’s never met Singh.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is heading into her fourth provincial election as leader and for the first time as head of the Official Opposition with the second-most seats in the legislature. She said nomination races are open to candidates who pass vetting by the party.

“It is the fundamental principle of democracy,” Horwath said.

Former Liberal MPP Harinder Malhi, who was defeated by Yarde in 2018 and placed a distant third, is running again. The PCs have a new candidate in Graham McGregor, who has worked for the provincial ministries of the environment, finance and municipal affairs and housing.

The Brampton North challenge comes just after veteran New Democrat MPP Paul Miller was dumped by the party in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. Several of the party’s MPPs are not running again, including Taras Natyshak in Windsor-Essex and Rima Berns-McGown in Beaches-East York.

New Democrats say Miller was booted from the caucus earlier this month for being a member of an Islamophobic Facebook group, but the veteran MPP insists he’s a victim of “cancel culture” and doesn’t used social media.

“It was outrageous, ridiculous,” he said of a Facebook post that is now the subject of his legal action against the New Democrats. Lucy Watson, the NDP’s provincial director, said Miller “crossed any reasonable line.”

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