Chris Adams, a political scientist based at St. Paul's College, said Wednesday Wab Kinew should reassure the NDP caucus members at his first meeting as leader Thursday that there is nothing more to come out about his past.
"He spoke very well at the podium at the (last weekend's leadership) convention. He's been very forthright," Adams said in an interview.
"Kinew's task is to unite caucus, then try to move the conversation away from his legal issues and assaults years ago."
Adams expected MLA Nahanni Fontaine will get a major role in Kinew's shadow cabinet after standing by him when revelations about his past surfaced this month. Two charges of domestic assault against Kinew were stayed in 2003, but Tara Hart, Kinew's former partner, came forward last week to provide details of the assault, which Kinew has denied happened.
"Wab Kinew shored up his support because of Nahanni Fontaine — I think Nahanni Fontaine has been a kingmaker," said Adams.
Kinew needs former cabinet ministers who supported his candidacy to play lead roles, among them Andrew Swan and James Allum, Adams said.
Kinew needs to find out if former premier Greg Selinger will agree to be more active in question period, or if he's content to remain low-key and speak only on Francophone issues, Adams said. Even though Tom Lindsey supported Steve Ashton's candidacy, the Flin Flon MLA's previous work on the north and labour should be recognized, he said.
Then there's the issue of Maples MLA Mohinder Saran, expelled from caucus when a second allegation of sexual harassment surfaced. The NDP needs that seat, said Adams, and Kinew should at least talk to Saran to see if he has been able to learn and change, as Kinew has.
Retired University of Manitoba political science professor Paul Thomas said Kinew needs to reassure caucus members that civility and consensus will be paramount.
Thomas said Kinew needs to say: "I will do everything possible to achieve trust and confidence in my leadership by demonstrating my respect and support for women in all situations. I recognize the need to move beyond nice words to concrete actions and I welcome advice."
Kinew also must tell the caucus that power won't be concentrated in the leader's office, Thomas said, and that all supporters — from caucus members to party members and to those who supposed Steve Ashton's leadership bid, will be respected and valued.