The New Democratic candidate in the Thompson byelection has disclosed that he was was charged with assault against an intimate partner following an incident more than 15 years ago.
Eric Redhead, the former chief of the Shamattawa First Nation, filed a report with Elections Manitoba.
Redhead said he received an absolute discharge for the 2006 charge against his former partner, who is the mother of his four children.
A judge can choose to grant an absolute discharge instead of convicting a person who is found guilty of a crime.
Candidates running for provincial office must disclose criminal offences for which they have pleaded guilty or have been found guilty of committing to Elections Manitoba, under provincial legislation passed in 2019.
"What I did was wrong," Redhead said in a statement to the Free Press. Redhead was not available for an interview and was travelling through northern Manitoba on Friday afternoon, a party spokesperson said.
"I completed counselling and took part in a restorative justice program, and as part of that program I took responsibility for my actions and identified how childhood trauma impacted my adult relationships," the statement said.
In 2007, Redhead was also charged with assault in a domestic violence incident. The Crown stayed the charge. Since that time, Redhead said he has maintained a close relationship with his former partner and the two of them are raising their children together.
"As a father, I’m focused on modelling respect and compassion," Redhead said. "I’m running in Thompson because I want to make people’s lives better and I will work every day to earn the trust of Thompson families."
Redhead served two terms as chief of Shamattawa before stepping down on May 11 to run for provincial office. The NDP said Redhead’s former partner has endorsed his campaign.
Progressive Conservative candidate Charlotte Larocque is also running for the seat formerly held by NDP MLA Danielle Adams, who died in a vehicle crash on Highway 6 on Dec. 9, 2021.
Larocque, the former president of the Thompson Chamber of Commerce, said laws requiring candidates to disclose past criminal convictions are in place to ensure voters have the information they need when casting their ballot.
"They need to decide what’s important to them," Larocque said. "We have to leave it to the Thompson region people to decide what they think is right, what they think is wrong and who they think the best person to represent them is."
Larocque said she plans to make campaign stops soon in Gillam and Churchill and hopes to visit as many communities in the north as possible.
It’s less than two weeks till the June 7 vote, and Larocque said she hopes to persuade voters to elect a representative from the governing party.
"Our voice is heard a lot more, not only in the house itself, but also in internal meetings. Hopefully, we can keep up the momentum that we’ve started in the last little while," she said.
Advance voting opens Saturday and closes June 4.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.