Another minister quits to seek NDP leadership
The former minister of transportation says Manitoba NDP are in a ‘critical situation’
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.
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.