Despite assault allegation Wab Kinew still NDP frontrunner: analyst - APTN NewsAPTN News

Despite assault allegation Wab Kinew still NDP frontrunner: analyst

Kathleen Martens
APTN National News
A accusation of domestic abuse from a former partner may slow Wab Kinew’s bid to lead the Manitoba New Democrats. But a political scientist says it won’t bring it to a complete stop.

“It’s not a great time on the eve of the convention that his ex-girlfriend’s stepping forward,” said University of Manitoba professor Chris Adams. “But he’s still the frontrunner.”

Kinew, a prominent Indigenous politician in Manitoba, is battling NDP veteran Steve Ashton for the crown in Saturday’s leadership race. The party is hoping a new leader will restore public confidence and return it to power in the next election.

Questions about Kinew’s fitness for office have dogged his ascent through party ranks. He was only elected MLA for Fort Rouge last year. Prior to that he worked as a broadcaster and musician, with a taste for raunchy lyrics and alcohol that led to a charge of driving while impaired.

Kinew has since been pardoned for that charge and says he’s outgrown his wild ways and brushes with the law.

He denied he was violent towards his former partner in 2003.

“That never happened,” he told APTN Thursday. “The matter was investigated and the charges were dropped.”

That much is true. Two charges of assault involving the woman were stayed by the Crown in 2004.

But the woman, Tara Hart of Winnipeg, in an interview with APTN Thursday, alleged Kinew threw or pushed her causing carpet burns. She said she ended the two-year relationship immediately.

News of the past criminal allegations was made public by Ashton. Something Hart said took her by surprise.

“I have not talked to Tara Hart,” Ashton said Friday. “I’ve seen what she has said and that’s one courageous woman. And I believe Tara Hart.”

Hart has said she would have preferred the matter remain private.

Meanwhile, Adams says the disclosure puts “some wind in Steve Ashton’s sails.” But not enough to knock Kinew off course.

He predicts a Kinew victory and says the new leader will hit the badly needed “re-set button” for the NDP.

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