Churchill NDP MP Niki Ashton rolled her party leadership campaign into Winnipeg Friday to unveil her endorsements in Manitoba, many of them high-ranking aboriginal officials.
The list includes provincial Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson, The Pas MLA Frank Whitehead, Peguis First Nation Chief Glen Hudson and Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand.
Ashton, 29, is the youngest candidate in a slate of nine running to become the new federal NDP leader.
Alternating between French and English, Ashton welcomed the support and laid out her vision for an NDP government, which includes addressing environmental issues such as climate change. She also said more has to be done to address poverty on remote First Nations.
Robert Chisholm, Nathan Cullen, Paul Dewar, Thomas Mulcair, Peggy Nash and Romeo Saganash are Ashton's fellow MPs in the race. The other candidates are Brian Topp, the NDP's former president who stepped down to enter the race, and Nova Scotia businessman and pharmacist Martin Singh.
The NDP will elect its new leader in March. The leadership campaign was prompted by the death of Jack Layton in August. Quebec MP Nycole Turmel is serving as interim leader.
Other Manitoba politicians endorsing Ashton include her dad, Transportation Minister Steve Ashton, Culture Minister Flor Macelino, Trade Minister Peter Bjornson, and MLAs Bidhu Jha (Radisson), Drew Caldwell (Brandon East), Tom Nevakshonoff (Interlake), Ted Marcelino (Tyndall) and Clarence Pettersen (Flin Flon). She also has the support of city councillors Ross Eadie and Harvey Smith and former councillor Lillian Thomas.
Her leadership bid is also endorsed by The Pas Mayor Alan McLauchlan, Thompson Mayor Tim Johnston, Keewatin Tribal Council Grand Chief Arnold Ouskan, Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief Garrison Settee, and Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg.
Just after Ashton released her list of Manitoba endorsements, fellow leadership hopeful Dewar released his via email.
His endorsements include Education Minister Nancy Allan, Labour Minister Jennifer Howard, Housing Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, Advanced Education Minister Erin Selby, Finance Minister Stan Struthers and MLAs Greg Dewar (Selkirk) and Dave Gaudreau (St. Norbert). Health Minister Theresa Oswald, Minister of Industry, Energy and Mines Dave Chomiak and MLA Kevin Chief also support Dewar.