The thing about being a New Democratic Party leader is that there’s an oh-so-fine class line to walk, a line that is easier for the leaders of less socially concerned parties. No one really expects that the leader of the NDP will actually be a working-class person, and since Ed Broadbent’s time, even the expectation that the leader will have been raised working-class has diminished. Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair have so many politicians brachiating in their family trees that if they lived in the U.K. they would probably have had peerages to renounce.
But until Jagmeet Singh came along, there was still a norm of personal austerity to be observed — a natural limit to how expensively one could dress, and how much conspicuous consumption one could indulge, while still serving up an NDP leader’s generous portion of lectures against selfishness and greed. Singh is the son of a psychiatrist: the tuition for the private American high school from which he graduated is, for the 2018-19 school year, US$31,260. He has been in GQ for his bespoke suits, and owns (according to Toronto Life) two Rolexes.
(I confess that the watches set me off. Rolexes aren’t arty like a Patek Philippe; they don’t do anything cool. They’re mostly kind of ugly. They are a pure, cold signifier of brute pride in wealth.)