Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 7/3/2015 (1080 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Ovide Mercredi, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and a staunch Greg Selinger supporter, is the new president of the Manitoba NDP.
Mercredi, 69, defeated two other candidates, including incumbent Ellen Olfert, in a contest that appeared to be influenced by leadership politics.
He is the first indigenous person to be elected president of the Manitoba NDP.
His candidacy caught many in the party by surprise when it was announced on Friday afternoon, along with an endorsement by Premier Selinger.
Olfert, who has been careful to remain neutral during the leadership race, had served as president for three years. She is said to have been backed by leadership candidate Theresa Oswald. A third candidate for president, Tyler Duncan, an 18-year-old University of Winnipeg student originally from Norway House, was supported by leadership candidate Steve Ashton.
Mercredi, a Cree from Grand Rapids, credited name recognition and Selinger’s endorsement for the win.
In a speech before his election, he said his first job as president would be to "bring about reconciliation" within the party.
He later said he can work with whomever is elected leader on Sunday. "I can work with anyone of those three people. If I didn’t think I could, I wouldn’t have run."
It took two ballots to elect the president after none of the candidates received a majority of the votes in the first round. In the second ballot, Mercredi received 300 votes to 263 for Olfert.
Mercredi’s ties to the NDP go back to the days of Ed Schreyer and Howard Pawley. He said he has not always been an NDP member, though, since he felt he needed to be neutral when he served as chief and grand chief.
More recently, he supported Selinger as a delegate at the 2009 leadership convention, which saw Selinger succeed Gary Doer as NDP leader and premier.
"My hope is that this (leadership) election will result in all the members of this party standing behind the elected leader, whoever that is tomorrow afternoon," he said.
As of Saturday afternoon, 1,146 delegates had registered for the NDP convention. That number could climb to as high as 1,500, with hundreds of others in remote locations, on Sunday.