NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his public video gaming session with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tonight is about reaching young people where they hang.
Legislators have an obligation to connect with younger Canadians struggling to cope with the pandemic, said Singh, who challenged the firebrand member of Congress on Thursday to a round of "Among Us," a popular online multiplayer game.
"I think it’s a great way to reach out to young people who have been really hard-hit by COVID-19, who often get blamed. But they’re the ones that are working in the jobs that expose them — in service jobs, in retail jobs, in restaurants and bars," Singh said in a phone interview.
"Also they’re the ones who lost their jobs, because these are the sectors that have been impacted by the shutdown," he added.
"It’s really hard to physically distance when you don’t have a career settled and you’re still going to school or you haven’t found a partner."
Singh says he and AOC, as the U.S. representative from New York is known, share progressive values on health care, economic equality and climate change, views that align with a growing slice of young voters.
Ocasio-Cortez livestreamed her debut on "Among Us" last month in an effort to lure younger voters to the polls for the Nov. 3 election in the U.S., attracting a staggering 439,000 viewers.
Friday's matchup, which will stream on the online gaming site Twitch, begins at 7 p.m. eastern time.
“It’s going to be one of the most epic crossovers in Canadian politics," Singh said.
A controversial standard-bearer for left-wing progressive politics, the 31-year-old Ocasio-Cortez was first elected to represent her New York City district in the House of Representatives in 2018.
Since then, she has become one of the most familiar faces on Capitol Hill, part of a progressive wing of the Democratic party that includes former presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
"Among Us" pits a team of tiny astronauts trying to return to Earth against one of their own, a sneaky saboteur or "impostor" whose objective is to kill off other crew members before they can repair their ship and identify the impostor.
The Friday showdown — "talking together, and figuring out who’s sus and who’s not" — will be Singh's first interaction with Ocasio-Cortez outside of posts and direct messages on Twitter, he said.
"If you think about the impostors as the ones that are at the very top exploiting the system or the ultra-wealthy who aren’t paying their fair share," Singh said. "That’s a pretty cool metaphor."
His teammate also found symbolic significance in the mission.
"Canadian members of Parliament and U.S. members of Congress venting each other into space. What could go wrong?" Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Thursday in response to Singh's invitation.
"See you tomorrow."
Her Oct. 20 livestream, which included fellow progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar, was one of the most-viewed events in the nine-year history of Twitch, which has become a popular way for politicians to attract young supporters.
The record still belongs to a professional gamer who played the popular game "Fortnite" with Canadian superstar Drake, rapper Travis Scott and NFL wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, with 628,000 viewers watching at the same time.