APTN National News
The woman at the centre of a political storm says she doesn’t want to be there.
“I’m not into politics; I’d rather keep out of it,” said Tara Hart of Winnipeg.
She’s in the middle of questions swirling around provincial NDP leadership candidate Wab Kinew, as the alleged victim of a domestic assault in 2003.
Hart spoke to APTN Thursday.
She said the two were in a common-law relationship when he threw or pushed her across the room and she suffered rug burn on her legs and hands.
She said she didn’t require medical care.
“I looked after myself,” she said.
Hart says that ended the two-year relationship with her moving out immediately.
“My grandmother came to pick me up. I left him with all the contents. I just took one laundry basket full of clothes.”
She says Kinew tried to contact her afterwards but she “didn’t go back.”
Hart says she put the incident behind her, noting “it” only happened “one time.” But seeing and hearing coverage of Kinew in the media leading up to this weekend’s party convention in Winnipeg has caused her stress.
She says that stress ratcheted up a few weeks ago when Kinew messaged her online to warn reporters might be calling.
“It’s so long ago; it’s in the past. I didn’t want it to come out.”
But with the support of her family members and friends, Hart says she’s speaking out. Albeit fearfully.
“I’m scared of his people that support him to come against me,” she said. “He has a lot of friends.”
“I’m not doing this for attention,” she added. “I wanted this to go away – I wanted the court documents to go away.”
It’s been reported that someone in Kinew’s own party dug up the 14-year-old court papers and leaked them to media outlets. The documents show Kinew was charged with two counts of domestic assault by RCMP.
The charges were stayed by the Crown – or dropped – in 2004, as the Fort Rouge MLA has said.
Kinew says no assault took place. “That never happened,” he told APTN Thursday. “The matter was investigated and the charges were dropped.”
Hart says it’s hard to hear Kinew deny anything happened.
“He knows what he did. Now he’s saying he didn’t do it.”
Hart says police investigated and laid criminal charges. Even though she blames herself.
“I went to the police because he assaulted me; physically injured (me). I changed my mind towards him when I seen him in public. I’d steer clear of him. I’d walk away.”
She says it was hard because she was friends with Kinew’s mother and sister. For a time she says the couple lived in the family’s basement.
But she says it’s important to get her side out.
“Him being a First Nation’s man, I feel responsible somewhat to speak up about what I went through. I don’t support violence like that.”
Hart says Kinew told her he’s turned his life around. She says she hung up on him. “It was kind of hurtful.”
Kinew, 35, confirmed the two spoke on the phone after he gave her the head’s up. He says he didn’t ask Hart for anything.
“The allegation didn’t happen,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m sympathetic to this person (They are) still going through some suffering and I want to take responsibility for anything I did that contributed to the end of the relationship.”
Like Hart, Kinew said it was important to talk about domestic violence as the spotlight shines on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
“This is a huge issue in the Indigenous community,” he said, referring to the national inquiry underway on the subject. “I will continue talking to young men about how to be better partners and have healthy relationships.”