Another min­is­ter quits to seek NDP lead­er­ship

The for­mer min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion says Man­i­toba NDP are in a ‘crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion’

Metro Canada (Winnipeg) - - NEWS -

A sixth cab­i­net min­is­ter in Man­i­toba’s em­bat­tled NDP gov­ern­ment has re­signed his post and he says he will launch a lead­er­ship cam­paign to be­come the prov­ince’s next premier.

Steve Ash­ton, min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion, said he met with Premier Greg Selinger Mon­day morn­ing to give him his res­ig­na­tion let­ter in per­son. He then an­nounced his decision on Twit­ter.

His of­fi­cial cam­paign launch is to come Tues­day.

Ash­ton said the NDP needs to re­con­nect with vot­ers after a “po­lit­i­cal cri­sis” that has seen five other cab­i­net min­is­ters re­sign and pub­licly ques­tion Selinger’s lead­er­ship amid dis­as­trous ap­proval num­bers.

The NDP can re­cover from anger fol­low­ing a provin­cial sales tax hike last year and go on to win the next elec­tion, he said.

“We’re in this crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, as a party and a gov­ern­ment, but the fun­da­men­tals are good,” Ash­ton said in an in­ter­view as he packed boxes in his leg­is­la­ture of­fice.

“We can re­bound and we can ac­tu­ally win the next elec­tion. I wouldn’t be do­ing this if I didn’t be­lieve that was the case.”

A spokesman for Selinger said the premier would not be com­ment­ing on Ash­ton’s de­par­ture and wouldn’t say whether a cab­i­net shuf­fle was in the off­ing.

Ash­ton joins for­mer cab­i­net col­league Theresa Oswald — who was one of the “rebel five” who re­signed to protest Selinger’s lead­er­ship — in chal­leng­ing the premier for the top job.

Oswald launched her lead­er­ship cam­paign over the week­end.

Selinger prompted the lead­er­ship race after com­ing un­der fire for the party’s sag­ging for­tunes fol­low­ing the provin­cial sales tax hike.

Selinger, who has led the NDP since 2009, has said he will stay on as premier and fight to keep his job at a party con­ven­tion March 8.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE

Thomp­son MLA Steve Ash­ton, seen in a file photo, stepped down as min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion Mon­day and said he’ll of­fi­cially launch a cam­paign for leader of Man­i­toba’s NDP party Tues­day.

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