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Kinew, Ashton deliver campaign-style oratory at NDP convention

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Former NDP MLA Steve Ashton speaks at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre Saturday.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Former NDP MLA Steve Ashton speaks at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre Saturday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/3/2017 (730 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Wab Kinew and Steve Ashton repeatedly delivered fiery and passionate campaign-style oratory Sunday — though neither one is yet an announced candidate for the provincial NDP leadership.

Resolution after resolution compelled the two men to the microphone Sunday to share their views with delegates to the party's annual convention and exhort the party rank and file to rise up against Premier Brian Pallister and his Progressive Conservative government.

"We had a few stump speeches this morning," Kinew later acknowledged with a smile to reporters. He's assembling a team, the Fort Rouge rookie MLA said, but, "It's not about what I want, it's about what people in the party want.

"We're in a strong position to rebuild. The NDP still has a strong brand."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/3/2017 (730 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Wab Kinew and Steve Ashton repeatedly delivered fiery and passionate campaign-style oratory Sunday — though neither one is yet an announced candidate for the provincial NDP leadership.

Resolution after resolution compelled the two men to the microphone Sunday to share their views with delegates to the party's annual convention and exhort the party rank and file to rise up against Premier Brian Pallister and his Progressive Conservative government.

"We had a few stump speeches this morning," Kinew later acknowledged with a smile to reporters. He's assembling a team, the Fort Rouge rookie MLA said, but, "It's not about what I want, it's about what people in the party want.

"We're in a strong position to rebuild. The NDP still has a strong brand."

Ashton wouldn't reveal his hand. Saturday, delegates did not back the one-member-one-vote leadership process, which might have benefitted the former longtime MLA and cabinet minister from Thompson.

"You'll find a lot of people were waiting to see what the rules were," Ashton said. "When you step out onto the field in every sport, you need to know what the rules are."

Michelle McHale, the only announced candidate, said she assumes Kinew is running.

"We know Wab will come out," she said Sunday.

McHale, best-known as an activist for gender identity rights, said she was at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre to meet and listen to New Democrats, not to seek votes or endorsements.

"There's so much passion, there's a desire to get it right," she said.

New party president David Woodbury said in an interview that the process, regulations, and deadlines to file a formal leadership candidacy will be developed and announced soon.

Even though the election process for the Sept. 16 to 17 leadership convention remains basically in place — traditional delegations by riding, organizations such as large unions, and specific party members — Woodbury pointed out there were a few changes made that will have to be incorporated.

St. John's MLA and rumoured leadership possibility Nahanni Fontaine declined to be interviewed after the convention.

Minto MLA Andrew Swan said there's nothing new to report on his possible candidacy: "It's good to hang out with New Democrats for the weekend," he said.

"I'm happy to keep my options open — a lot of people have approached me," said Concordia MLA Matt Wiebe, who could also be open to backing the right candidate.

"I'm looking for someone who can unite us, bring us together," Wiebe said. "There are people who can do that," he said, declining to name them.

Sunday's final day of the convention drew fewer delegates than Saturday. Several New Democrats pointed out the empty seats section had been where advocates of one-member-one-vote had been sitting Saturday.

Sunday, delegates enthusiastically supported a wide range of resolutions demanding that Pallister take actions the NDP had not implemented during four majority governments — such as universal child care, free post-secondary tuition and extending the age up to 25 to support people who were taken into care as children.

The membership will target seven non-northern rural ridings they lost last April, such as Dauphin and Brandon East.

"We need to get Drew Caldwell back," said Winnipeg city Coun. Brian Mayes, pointing out the NDP had held Brandon East since 1969. Caldwell lost his seat to Tory Len Isleifson last April.

"This is one of the most important thing we can do," Ashton said. "We have always represented every region of this province... (and now) to see Brian Pallister and the Tories take every rural seat. One thing I'm tired of the Tories — they swagger around, they think they own rural Manitoba."

Kinew successfully implored delegates to let him "continue taking swings at the Pallister government" over the recent cancellation of $6.5 million for the second Kelvin High School gym and $1 million towards Dakota Collegiate's sports field project.

Telling delegates he sends two children to Kelvin, Swan noted its students come from all over the city. "We like to say Kelvin is across the river — this is not just an attack on River Heights, it's an attack on the entire Winnipeg School Division community."

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 2:18 PM CDT: fixed fact box, photo cutline

2:36 PM: changed photo

2:39 PM: photo issues

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