New leader calls for unity to fight ‘up­hill bat­tle’

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - JOYANNE PURSAGA jpur­saga@post­media.com

Win­nipeg Sun

Man­i­toba’s new NDP leader noted the next ma­jor vote he faces could prove a tougher chal­lenge.

While call­ing for unity af­ter win­ning the Man­i­toba NDP lead­er­ship con­test Satur­day, Wab Kinew noted his bid to become premier won’t be easy af­ter his party claimed just 14 seats in the 2016 elec­tion.

“We’re fac­ing an up­hill bat­tle as a party as it is and if we’re go­ing to be suc­cess­ful in that, we’re go­ing to have to do ev­ery­thing we can to pull ev­ery­one back to­gether,” said Kinew.

The NDP held power from 1999 to 2016 be­fore en­dur­ing a crush­ing de­feat that brought the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives to power with 40 seats. And Kinew said he ex­pects per­sonal po­lit­i­cal at­tacks about his crim­i­nal past, es­pe­cially an al­leged do­mes­tic as­sault, to be part of that con­test.

Man­i­toba po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Chris Adams said Kinew’s past could play more promi­nently in the next gen­eral elec­tion, in which Kinew must try to win over mid­dle-class fe­male vot­ers.

“He won over his party but (gen­eral elec­tion) vot­ers could be an­other story,” said Adams.

But Adams noted it’s also not yet clear how women will re­act to cost-cut­ting in health-care ser­vices and the Tories’ cur­rent con­sid­er­a­tion of what they them­selves la­bel a health-care tax.

“The PCs are in dan­ger of los­ing these mid­dle-class women,” he said.

Mean­while, Adams said Kinew’s suc­cess in claim­ing 74% of Satur­day’s vote in­di­cates the party has largely united to sup­port him fol­low­ing an in­ter­nal di­vide that led five cab­i­net min­is­ters to call for then-premier Greg Selinger to re­sign in 2014. Selinger in­stead re­jected the call and shuf­fled his cab­i­net.

CHRIS ADAMS

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