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This article was published 20/1/2019 (570 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NDP MLA and former cabinet minister Andrew Swan has told the Free Press he intends to leave provincial politics and seek the federal NDP nomination in Winnipeg Centre ahead of this fall’s federal election.
Party sources confirmed Sunday Swan will hold a formal announcement tonight to launch his nomination bid. He is the second candidate to vie for the NDP nomination in Winnipeg Centre: University of Winnipeg instructor and Indigenous activist Leah Gazan threw her hat in the ring Saturday.
The Winnipeg Centre riding executive has yet to set a date for the nomination meeting. However, New Democrat hopes are high that the riding can be returned to the fold. It was held by former NDP MP Pat Martin for 18 years until it was lost to the Liberals and Robert-Falcon Ouellette in the 2015 election.
Swan said he strongly believes Winnipeg Centre needs an NDP MP to get fair representation in the House of Commons, and will seek to repatriate a riding that has only had Liberal or Conservative MPs four times in it’s nearly 100-year history.
"We currently have an MP (Ouellette) who has been missing in action since he came in on the Trudeau wave," Swan said in an interview. "He’s disappointed people. People are upset that he has either failed to take a position or has taken the wrong position. It’s time for a change."
If successful in winning the nomination, Swan said he will remain in the Manitoba legislature until the end of the spring sitting and then resign his seat.
In his bid to jump into federal politics, Swan will face a stiff test against Gazan, a dynamic public figure who has established a high profile as a respected activist on a range of indigenous, LGBTTQ* and core area issues. In addition to her work at the U of W, she has served on the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, the Board of Governors of Red River College and the Winnipeg Taxicab Board.
In a release posted on Facebook last weekend, Gazan said the steady increase in poverty and meth addiction in Winnipeg’s core is proof enough that Winnipeg Centre, which is among the poorest federal ridings in Canada, needs new representation in Ottawa.
"It is time that Winnipeg Centre has a leader that will listen to the community with all its knowledge and wisdom, stop stalling and act immediately to ensure all residents can realize their rights to joy," she wrote in her release. "I want to be that leader."
Swan certainly has the advantage that he was served as a MLA for the last 15 years, during which time he served in the cabinets of former NDP premiers Gary Doer and Greg Selinger.
However, Swan has some internal party baggage to deal with. He was part of the so-called "Gang of Five" cabinet ministers who resigned in November 2014 to protest against Selinger’s continued leadership.
Swan was widely expected to seek re-election in the fall 2020 provincial election but was facing a difficult choice about where to run given that his riding, Minto, will cease to exist thanks to electoral boundary redistribution. Party sources believed he would ultimately run in Wolseley, an NDP-held riding that will be vacant heading into the provincial election after MLA Rob Altemeyer’ confirmed he would not run for re-election.
Born and raised in and around Toronto, Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school with a lifelong dream to be a newspaper reporter.
Updated on Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 11:25 PM CST: Edited
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