Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 22/12/2014 (1159 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Thompson MLA Steve Ashton made it all but official today that he wants to lead the NDP into the next election.
He announced his intention in a single tweet this morning.
Ashton also said he met first with Premier Greg Selinger to announce he is resigning his cabinet post as Infrastructure and Transportation minister to run.
He said his resignation is effective at midnight as he needs to get several matters off his desk.
Ashton said resigning was the right thing to do, and not to put pressure on Selinger to do the same. His Wikipedia profile has already been updated that his is stepping down.
He said as a minister he has the confidence of the premier, but in a leadership battle that dynamic changes.
"If you’re in a position of having any degree of disagreement, clearly the honourable thing to do is step down," he said.
Ashton ran for leadership NDP in 2009 after former premier Gary Doer resigned to become Canadian ambassador to the United States. Selinger handily won that race and subsequently led the party to its biggest electoral success, winning 37 seats, since it came to power in 1999.
A spokesman from Selinger said today the premier is not commenting on Ashton's resignation.
Selinger has said he does not intend to step down as premier as that is not in keeping with parliamentary governance.
Ashton said he will file his nomination papers at the party's head office Tuesday morning and follow that up with a campaign launch.
He will also reveal the support that he has within the NDP to run.
"Actually, it’s support that I didn’t have last time," he said. "I do think people will see a significant support base."
Ashton, the longest-serving MLA first elected in 1981, also said he believes he can renew the party heading into the next election.
He added he has an advantage over rival Theresa Oswald in that he was not one of the MLAs to break cabinet confidentiality when Oswald and four other ministers resigned their posts Nov. 3 and openly criticized Selinger’s leadership.
"I really do believe that there is a critical element here of renewing the NDP," he said.
NDP leadership candidate Theresa Oswald, first out of the gate in the leadership race, issued this statement today:
"I welcome Steve to the race. I've had the privilege of working with Steve Ashton for many years around the cabinet table and I know he is smart, a hard worker and that no one can get a highway built like Steve can. I look forward to having a respectful and constructive dialogue with Steve about renewing our party to ensure we are able to stop Brian Pallister and the PCs in the next election from tearing apart the progress our government has made on health care and education."
Selinger has said he intends to fight for his job, but the timing of filing his nomination papers and announcing his leadership campaign is unknown.
Ashton's resignation from cabinet letter
The Honourable Greg Selinger:
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to serve in your cabinet as Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation and as Government House Leader. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Manitoba in a number of senior roles within the Legislature and government as an MLA and Minister.
Like many others, I regret the public conflict within both the government and party and confusion and negativity this has created with the general public.
I understand that within all parties, caucuses and cabinets there are always legitimately and strongly held differences of opinions between individuals. I also have respected the long standing traditions of both the party and parliamentary system where those differences have been dealt with internally. If the differences were irreconcilable, the honourable action was for resignations to be offered and Cabinet and caucus solidarity and confidentiality upheld.
Although we haven't agreed on all issues over the years, I have respected your position as Premier and the positions of fellow cabinet and caucus members. I believe that you have acted with principle and integrity in your role as Minister and Premier.
Our government has many accomplishments to be proud of. We have brought in many important initiatives that have enhanced the quality of life for all Manitobans. We should all take credit for the successes we have shared and responsibility for the times we have fallen short of the mark. We all know that we have much more to do, but unfortunately the events of the past few weeks and months have temporarily distracted us from that goal.
I believe that we are at a crossroads as a party and a government. I believe we must reconnect with Manitobans and put forward a clear vision for our province. We must lead our party and government through this current crisis and beyond. That is why I am entering the leadership race.
I believe we need to give the party membership the opportunity to choose a Leader who can engage our membership, bring the party back together and reconnect with Manitobans.
Greg, my entry into the race should not be interpreted as any reflection on your personal commitment and the hard work you and our government have done over the past six years. I have particularly appreciated working with you on such critical issues as fighting major floods and building our core infrastructure. We should be proud of what we have accomplished and I believe that the NDP can continue to enhance the quality of life for all Manitobans.
I will be tendering my resignation from Cabinet effective 12:00 midnight December 22, 2014 as I believe that it is inappropriate to continue to be a member of Cabinet while competing for the leadership of a party in government. This will enable me to put forward my ideas, hopes and aspirations for a united party based on the principles and long traditions of the NDP and a return to government that translates those fundamental beliefs into positive action.
I assure you that whatever the outcome of the leadership contest, I remain committed to working with the NDP, our caucus and within government, no matter who the Leader is, to continue to create a better Manitoba.