CHELSEA, QUE.—It is possibly the most electrifying thing to happen to the NDP since Jagmeet Singh became the first person of colour to lead a federal political party. That was 2017, and to say the charge has faded would be an understatement. Under the combined weight of the pandemic, the Trudeau government’s progressive response and Singh’s often relaxed approach to his job, he has become almost a footnote. Now he may have a serious rival, although a few obstacles remain, to say the least. Last week, Avi Lewis, son of Stephen and grandson of David—in other words, NDP royalty—announced that he will be a candidate in the British Columbia riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, a vast stretch of towns and villages that follows the picturesque coast north of Vancouver, and includes both Squamish and Whistler. It isn’t a safe seat, by any means: it has flipped from Conservative to Liberal, with a brief Green interregnum over recent years, but it is a riding Lewis knows. He, and his wife, author and activist Naomi Klein, have owned property there, in Halfmoon Bay, for 15 years, although until the pandemic, both spent significant time elsewhere in busy careers. The riding has not been friendly to the NDP: in 2019, the Greens placed third, closely behind the Conservatives. A 35-year-old lawyer, Patrick Weiler, won it for the Liberals and the New Democrat came fourth. Obstacles aside, Lewis brings more to the game than an illustrious pedigree. He has an engaging personality, strong communication skills as a journalist and documentary film-maker, a national profile, and the ability to sound passionate without coming across as sanctimonious. A youthful-looking 54, Lewis has decided the time is right to get into the family business. He has the enthusiastic support of his wife, and his father, Stephen, who is battling cancer in Toronto, along with a cadre of youthful fans. How serviceable his French is—Singh’s is judged to be good by most francophone commentators—is a question for another day. First, Lewis has to win the largely-white riding where retired people are over-represented and housing is increasingly unaffordable for ordinary wage-earners. While campaigning, he may also be called to account for the shortcomings of John Horgan’s provincial NDP government, loathed on the right for raising taxes on upscale properties, and, on the left, for a number of environmentally-damaging projects, from the LNG plant in Kitimat, to the Site C dam, to continuing old growth logging. As an ardent environmentalist and co-author of the 2015 Leap Manifesto, Lewis risks walking into another quagmire: Singh’s lacklustre leadership on green issues. Only weeks ago, Singh joined Conservatives and Liberals in condemning Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to shut down a pipeline that brings Alberta oil to Ontario and Quebec, for fear of a catastrophic leak under the Great Lakes. The federal NDP talks a good line about the environment, but does not substantially depart from Trudeau’s doomed attempt to balance environmental progress with sustaining Alberta’s oil patch. Whether Lewis can push his party farther than the Liberals are prepared to go is doubtful. Former party firebrand Svend Robinson tried as a candidate in the 2019 election, to no avail. The party has wrestled unsuccessfully with the tension between its shrinking union/blue collar base—whose jobs are often on the line—and rising greenhouse gas emissions for years. The tension will only intensify if Rachel Notley retakes Alberta for the NDP in 2023. To win his riding, Lewis will have to attract Green voters and green-minded Liberals disappointed in Trudeau. His offering will have to be more than utopian ambitions for a greener world: we already hear lots of that. David Suzuki and Jane Fonda were present at Lewis’s viral launch, and he has made a documentary with U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her famous Green New Deal. But celebrity endorsements aren’t likely to win the day, either. Others will recall that Lewis threw a hand grenade into his party’s federal convention in Edmonton in 2016, by forcing a riding-by-riding consideration of the Leap Manifesto. That infuriated Notley, who was trying to sell Alberta oil, and pushed Tom Mulcair out of the leadership. After that, Lewis mostly vanished from public view, leaving smoking ruins behind. He and Klein continue to talk up Leap—essentially, an aspirational vision of a greener, more racially and socially equitable society—but their message seems to have had more traction among American environmentalists. It was never adopted by the NDP, and, if anything, has been overtaken by events, and by elements of Trudeau’s recent and more ambitious climate plan. The Trudeau government has embraced some of Leap’s more practical recommendations, including a home retrofit program and increased investment in electrification of cars, trucks, and public transit. It has also provided jobs for many unemployed oil workers cleaning up abandoned wells. That said, Ottawa continues to subsidize the oil and gas sector, and to preach a gradual transition away from fossil fuels—much too gradual. In recent days, courts, the International Energy Agency, and newly-elected activist members of oil company boards have moved more aggressively than governments to push oil companies to stop investing in new fossil fuel exploration and to toughen their climate targets. If Lewis is serious about climate change, why didn’t he avoid unpleasantness within his legacy party and run for the Greens, who have a more ambitious environmental agenda than any other federal party—and actually believe the rhetoric? It would be, among other things, an important endorsement for the hard-working Annamie Paul, the first black woman to lead a federal party. He might also have a better chance as a high-profile Green candidate in his west coast riding. It is too late now, but *that* could have been a leap worth taking. Susan Riley is a veteran political columnist who writes regularly for The Hill Times.