A troubled past and attacks from opponents have not deterred Manitoba NDP leader

Troubled past, attacks from opponents have not deterred Kinew

WINNIPEG — To his supporters, Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew’s troubled past is a story of personal redemption. To his opponents, it’s one of a man who hasn’t fully come clean about his actions and doesn’t deserve the keys to the premier’s office.

Kinew, 37, has stayed on as Opposition leader despite previous criminal charges and revelations in the media and in attack ads by the governing Progressive Conservatives about homophobic and misogynistic rap lyrics and social media posts.

The revelations, which started just as he was making his first election run in 2016 and continued through to his NDP leadership victory in 2017, might have persuaded some politicians to walk away. But Kinew has persisted and expects the governing Tories to ramp up their ads about his past now that the election campaign is underway.

“Whether it’s fatalist, or whether it’s realist, I have accepted the fact that it’s going to be a tough road,” Kinew said in an interview.

“I do worry a lot about what the (Tory) attacks ads are going to be like, on a personal level, because I’ve been at the centre of media firestorms before, so that does scare me.

“But I continue to believe that the broader goal of standing up for health care and standing up for Manitobans is important enough for me to push forward.”

Kinew was born in Kenora, Ont., and lived on the Onigaming First Nation as a young boy. His late father was a residential school survivor who endured horrific abuse and passed on to Kinew the importance of Anishinaabe culture and language.

Both Kinew’s parents were well educated and wanted the same for him. He spent some of his formative years in a well-to-do suburb in southern Winnipeg and graduated from a private high school.

Kinew studied economics in university and began abusing alcohol.

In his 2015 memoir, “The Reason You Walk,” Kinew admitted to some of his legal troubles from 2003 and 2004 — convictions for impaired driving and an assault on a taxi driver.

Court records included details about the assault not contained in the book. It started with Kinew hurling racial insults at the driver.

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