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This article was published 1/3/2017 (1670 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA - Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton will announce next week she is going to run for the leadership of her party.
Ashton confirmed to the Free Press she will be leaving her duties as the party's critic for jobs, employment and the workforce shortly. She will become the fourth official candidate in the race and the first woman.
Ashton has been mulling a leadership run for months but told the Free Press in early January she wasn't in any hurry. The vote won't take place until October and she didn't think she would start actively campaigning until May.
However, the first NDP leadership debate is scheduled for March 12 in Ottawa, with a second event planned later in the month in Montreal. The NDP will avoid scheduled national leadership events during the B.C. provincial election in April and early May, but intends to hold at least seven more events over the summer.
The candidacy announcements are coming fast and furious now after months of languishing interest. Ontario MP Charlie Angus, B.C. MP Peter Julian and Quebec MP Guy Caron have already declared their candidacy. Several high profile potential candidates put themselves on the sidelines early, including former MP Megan Leslie, popular BC MP Nathan Cullen and Quebec MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau.
It is the second time Ashton is seeking the leadership. In 2012 she finished last on the first ballot of seven candidates. She did not endorse anyone on subsequent ballots.
First elected in 2008 for the remote riding of Churchill, Ashton was re-elected in 2011 and 2015. Her riding is one of the most remote and poorest in the country, with a large indigenous population. Forty-one of Manitoba's 67 First Nations are in her riding, which was renamed Churchill Keewatinook Aski in the 2015 riding redistribution process.
The NDP are looking for a new leader to replace Tom Mulcair, who lost a confidence vote among party members almost a year ago. Mulcair is remaining in place until the new leader is chosen, Oct. 27.