Ex-NDP MLA Ashton not running, supporter alleges interference

NDP stalwart Steve Ashton will not be running in the next provincial election, and one of his supporters claims the provincial party has interfered to keep Ashton off the ballot.

In an email sent to The Reminder and other media outlets, Ashton supporter Blair Hudson alleges Ashton was prevented by the provincial party from seeking the NDP’s nomination for the riding ahead of the upcoming election.

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“Many of us have been NDP members for decades,” reads the email from Hudson, which identified him as a Thompson NDP executive member. “We believe Steve (should) be allowed to contest the NDP nomination.”

The provincial NDP did not reveal any reason for rejecting Ashton’s candidacy, but the party’s candidate selection committee upheld the rejection after Ashton filed an appeal with the party last week.

“At this time, no further details regarding this matter can be disclosed,” read a statement by NDP provincial secretary Tim Johnson to the Canadian Press.

Ashton served Thompson in the provincial legislature for 35 years before being ousted by Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate Kelly Bindle in the 2016 election. Ashton served as a cabinet minister under Premiers Gary Doer and Greg Selinger.

Ashton has run to be the party’s leader on three separate occasions, losing in 2009 and 2015 to Selinger and in 2017 to current party leader Wab Kinew.

At least one other candidate is currently running to fill the vacant NDP nomination in Thompson.

With files from Steve Lambert, Canadian Press

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