WINNIPEG – A high-profile candidate running for the leadership of Manitoba’s Opposition New Democrats is revealing more brushes with the law following an anonymous email circulated to media this week.
Wab Kinew says he wants to address what he says are lies and half-truths in the email that said he has been convicted of several crimes not previously reported.
Kinew says he was charged with domestic assault in 2003, but the allegation was untrue and the charge was dropped.
He also says he was charged with stealing a money order in 2006, but that charge was stayed when he repaid the money.
And he says he was given a conditional discharge in 2004 for assault in Ontario after getting into a fight.
None of the charges was revealed in Kinew’s 2015 memoir “The Reason You Walk” in which he outlined convictions for assaulting a cab driver and driving while intoxicated — offences for which he has since received a pardon.
Kinew says while he has not previously revealed all of his legal past, he has been open about his troubled adolescence and early adulthood.
Kinew, who was first elected to the legislature last year, is perceived to be the front-runner in a two-person race for the Manitoba NDP leadership, which is to be decided Sept. 16.
“I’m comfortable addressing these things that were misconstrued or that are being circulated by anonymous emails,” Kinew said Friday.
“I’ve been open about this whole period in my life. I’ve said I was a screw-up when I was younger, and I went from negative to positive.”
Kinew, 35, is up against former cabinet minister Steve Ashton and has garnered more endorsements from high-profile party members and union leaders.
He was recruited as a star candidate in the 2016 election. The Indigenous rights activist, author and former broadcaster has a large following on social media and has been a frequent guest speaker on Indigenous issues at events across Canada.
He ran into trouble when social media comments of his surfaced shortly after he announced his intention to run for office. The comments, most of which were from between 2008 and 2011, included derogatory terms for women, homophobic slurs, and a joke about running over a cat and causing it pain.
Kinew also drew criticism for some of his lyrics from a decade ago when he was a rapper. They included derogatory terms about women’s bodies and gay men.
Kinew said that despite the latest revelations, supporters he has talked to in the last few days are staying with him.
“They know I have baggage,” he said.
“I’ve been reaching out to some supporters and they’ve been very encouraging and … the message of a second chance is what I’ve heard them express as being important to them.”
Kinew said he did not want to discuss details of the domestic violence accusation from 2003.
“I was charged. It was investigated. It was dropped. There was nothing to it,” he said.
“There is another person involved and I have to respect them,” he added later.