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Former Manitoba NDP cabinet minister wants to run for federal Liberals

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WINNIPEG - A former Manitoba NDP cabinet minister is switching parties and hoping to run for the Liberals in the next federal election.

MaryAnn Mihychuk, who served as a New Democrat member of the legislature for nine years until 2004, said Wednesday she sees a lot of common ground between the provincial NDP a decade ago and the current federal Liberals.

"I served under (former premier) Gary Doer and you would classify it as fairly centrist. We were concerned about the economy and jobs, innovation ... as well as having a social conscience and taking care of people through good programming," Mihychuk said.

"I think that's the vision of the Liberals. They're gone through a revitalization. I think Justin Trudeau brings new hope for the Liberals."

Mihychuk's time in the legislature included a stint as minister for intergovernmental affairs and trade. She resigned in 2004 in an unsuccessful bid to become Winnipeg mayor.

She said that now that her three children are grown, she wants to get back into politics and seek the Liberal nomination in the Kildonan-St. Paul riding in Winnipeg. The Liberals finished a distant third in the riding in 2011. Victor Andres captured eight per cent of the vote, while Conservative Joy Smith won with 58 per cent.

Andres is seeking the nomination again. He welcomed Mihychuk's entry into the race while at the same time touting his deeper roots in the party.

"I believe that open and contested nominations are extremely healthy for any party," Andres said.

"I stepped up to the plate to run as a candidate when no one else would, back in 2011, when the party was not nearly as popular as it is now. I'm very pleased to stay in the race when the party is doing well."

Andres is a registered nurse and runs a rehabilitation company. Last year, he helped run the provincial leadership campaign of Dougald Lamont, who finished second to Rana Bokhari.

Mihychuk, 59, said she recognizes the riding will not be an easy battle for any Liberal.

"We anticipate the election will be over a year away, but it'll take a certain amount of work to rebuild and gain the confidence of Kildonan-St. Paul voters."

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