Steve Ashton enters Manitoba NDP leadership race

Steve Ashton Manitoba politics NDP
Steve Ashton packs up his desk on Monday. The Manitoba infrastructure and transportation minister is resigning from cabinet ahead of entering the race to become leader of the NDP. Lauren McNabb / Global News

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton will run for leadership of the ruling NDP, he announced on Twitter Monday morning.

Ashton will resign from cabinet Monday and make the leadership announcement Tuesday, he said at the Manitoba legislature after making the news public via Twitter.

“We’re at a crossroads, a bit of a crisis, a political crisis,” he told reporters Monday. “We’re facing some challenges as a party and a government. I know that, but that’s when you step up.”

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Ashton ran to succeed Gary Doer as leader of the NDP in 2009 but lost to current Premier Greg Selinger.

Selinger has said he will run to remain leader but hasn’t yet filed his nomination papers. He has refused to step down as leader and premier during the race.

Selinger wouldn’t comment on Ashton’s decision to run against him. A spokesperson said they hope to announce who will replace him as minister and house leader by the end of Monday.

READ MORE: Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger determined to fight for job

Ashton said his decision to resign from cabinet is not a condemnation of Selinger’s decision to remain premier during the race.

“Obviously, if I’m running for leader and the premier is running for leader, I’ll be putting forward a vision that is a different vision, and my view is if you are in any position where you’re going to have any public disagreement or even a different vision, it’s just the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s not about anyone else. It’s not about the premier.”

Steve Ashton Manitoba politics NDP
Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton is resigning from cabinet ahead of entering the NDP leadership race. Jeremy Desrochers / Global News
Steve Ashton Manitoba NDP politics
Steve Ashton speaks to the media after announcing on Twitter that he'll enter the Manitoba NDP leadership race. Jeremy Desrochers / Global News / File

Former jobs and the economy minister Theresa Oswald filed her nomination papers for leadership Friday. Oswald was one of five ministers who resigned from cabinet in November after challenging Selinger’s leadership. That rebellion prompted the current leadership race.

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READ MORE: Oswald promises respectful, dignified NDP leadership campaign

The leadership vote will take place at the NDP convention March 6-8 in Winnipeg.

READ MORE: Manitoba NDP release rules for race that will choose premier

— With files from Lauren McNabb