Wab Kinew is staying on as a Manitoba NDP candidate. (Photo: CP)
"Things were tense at home. My dad was a great man. He fought for our civil rights," Kinew said. "But he was also very distant and very angry when he was around. That coloured a lot of my childhood as well." Kinew said he first encountered racism as a young boy in Winnipeg — a teacher once choked him in class and then whispered a slur. He did well in school and went to university to study economics, but got caught up in a "party lifestyle." He drank, did drugs, got arrested for drunk driving and for assaulting a cab driver. "I hit rock bottom on a personal level," he said. He went to Alcoholics Anonymous.
"For a long time I told myself that because I had been mistreated, I was somehow justified in treating others poorly."
Wab Kinew apologized for offensive lyrics in his book and at the Aboriginal People's Choice Awards. (Photo: CP)
Kinew worked at the CBC in Winnipeg before becoming the University of Winnipeg's first director of indigenous inclusion. All the while he tried to repair the relationship with his father. "All my life, I thought my dad hated me. It turns out, he just had no idea how to express what he felt." Now the father of his own two sons, Kinew said he notices he's too quick to anger when they act out. "In those moments, I recognize my father," he said. "My children deserve to grow up without feeling the anger or the lack of self-esteem."
"I hope over the course of this campaign and over the course of my career ... I prove to people I'm not just the indigenous guy."
Can 'provide a new narrative for the country'Kinew is running against Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari and Audrey Gordon for the Progressive Conservatives in the April 19 vote. Lloyd Axworthy, former Liberal foreign minister and the university president who hired Kinew, said Kinew's personality and spirituality can attract people and help "provide a new narrative for the country." "He will be one of the important players in the country," Axworthy said. "There is no question in my mind about it." But his past comments have many demanding he step down. A group of indigenous Liberal candidates said Friday that Kinew's comments show he's not fit for public office. Former federal Conservative cabinet minister Michelle Rempel called his comments "inhumane."
Premier Greg Selinger has stood by Kinew, lauding him for turning his life around. While he apologizes unequivocally for his past lyrics, Kinew is less apologetic for his tweets, calling them "satire" of his own privileged lifestyle. "When push comes to shove, are you going to find a stronger advocate for indigenous people, for the kids in Attawapiskat? I don't think so." "I hope over the course of this campaign and over the course of my career ... I prove to people I'm not just the indigenous guy. I hope that people recognize that I'm a leader."
"When push comes to shove, are you going to find a stronger advocate for indigenous people, for the kids in Attawapiskat? I don't think so."
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