Steve Ashton has been a long time resident of Thompson having emigrated to the community in 1967.
Steve is an economist by background . He is a graduate of R.D Parker Collegiate in Thompson. He is also a graduate of the University of Manitoba and Lakehead University.
Steve was active in the student movement serving as the president of the University of Manitoba Student Union. Steve is also proud of his labour roots. He was a member of Steelworkers Local #6166 and went from walking a Steelworker picket line to being elected to the Manitoba legislature.
Steve believes that growing inequality and climate change are key challenges facing Manitoba. He believes it is critical for the New Democratic Party to rebuild, particularly in rural Manitoba and to provide a strong opposition to the Pallister government's austerity that is leading to cuts to health, education, social services and infrastructure. His goal is to provide a clear, bold, progressive agenda in the next election to defeat Brian Pallister PC's and give Manitoban's the government they deserve.
Steve is a life long New Democrat who joined the NDP when he was 17.
In government Steve played a key role in rebuilding our infrastructure in rural and northern Manitoba, strengthening environmental protection, urban renewal including rapid transit and improving flood protection
In opposition Steve Ashton serve as Opposition House Leader, Labour critic and led the fight against the privatization of MTS.
Ashton puts forward 'Change for a Generation' agenda
NDP Leadership candidate Steve Ashton has put forward what he calls the 'Change for a Generation' agenda.
"Young Manitobans are facing the prospect of being worse off than previous generations, economically and in terms of the environment. We need action that focuses on good jobs, reducing and eliminating tuitions and making Manitoba a leader on fighting climate change," said Ashton.
Ashton said his agenda builds on the NDP's tradition and policies and includes:
Investing in education, including increased funding for research, and making Manitoba a leader in reducing and eliminating post-secondary education tuitions at Manitoba's colleges and universities, including immediately rolling back the PC tuition increases.
A comprehensive strategy to tackle the precarious work many young Manitobans are facing, including ensuring equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual, and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; including temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees and rejecting the 'uberization' of the economy.
Modernizing labour legislation, including ensuring young workers have the right to organize collectively with a card check system, paid sick leave, and putting in additional resources to promote and enforce safe workplaces for all workers, with a particular focus on young workers.
Moving to a living wage of $15 an hour at the beginning of the next NDP government's mandate.
Reducing the voting age to 16 to ensure that young people are engaged in the political process at an earlier age.
A clear commitment to ensuring Manitoba is a leader in shifting to a carbon-free economy to fight climate change, including major investments in green energy and green energy technology, and green housing construction and retrofitting; and specific measures to ensure the training and employment of young people for the green jobs of the future.
Ashton also said that under his leadership the NDP would reject the Conservative agenda of austerity and privatization that he says is having a disproportionate impact on young Manitobans. "That includes a clear commitment to public ownership of Hydro and public infrastructure," he stated.
Ashton stressed the importance of putting forward a bold progressive agenda to tackle Pallister and the PC's in the next election.
"Millennials just aren't prepared to accept a system that is putting corporate profits ahead of people and the environment and is leaving them further and further behind. They want change; change for a generation and change for our province and planet. "
Ashton Calls Out Pallister For Climate Failure
Launches Aggressive Strategy to Strengthen Manitoba Economy, Reduce Emissions
Manitoba Hydro Headquarters Winnipeg. Today Manitoba NDP leadership candidate Steve Ashton called out the Pallister government for its utter failure on climate change, and released an aggressive strategy to strengthen Manitoba's economy while moving the province towards a carbon-free economy.
"Brian Pallister doesn't seem to realize he is the Premier of a green energy province," said Ashton. "At a time when leading climate scientists are saying the next three years are critically important, he should be aggressively creating new green jobs and helping Manitoba citizens and businesses save money as they reduce emissions. Instead he's making Hydro more expensive and has refused to even sign the federal climate accord, while also slashing the very front line jobs and services he said during the election would be protected. Manitobans have every right to feel betrayed by this Pallister government."
Ashton, who served as Manitoba's Conservation Minister leading up to the ratification of the Kyoto Accord, says his aggressive strategy for climate action and a stronger economy focuses on three core themes: Protecting Manitobans, Saving Money, and a new role for publicly owned Manitoba Hydro.
"Climate change is real, and leaving Manitobans vulnerable to what's coming is totally unacceptable," stated Ashton. "Manitobans deserve a Premier with the political experience to know how to turn this kind of challenge into positive opportunities for our communities," said Ashton.
Specific initiatives under each of Ashton's themes include:
Ensure any carbon pricing tool includes offsets for low income Manitobans, particularly those living in rural and northern communities
Assist workers as they transition to greener jobs
Support Indigenous communities as they defend their inherent rights against unwanted fossil fuel projects like pipelines on their traditional territory
Aggressively reduce fossil fuel imports so hundreds of millions of additional dollars stay here to circulate in the Manitoba economy
End all fossil fuel subsidies and re-allocate those funds to energy efficiency programs, which are the fastest and cheapest way to create jobs, save money and reduce emissions.
Sign the federal climate accord, giving Manitoba immediate access to over $60 million in federal climate funding before those funds are lost to other provinces
Expand the use of Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS) financing so individual Manitobans and businesses can actually save money while switching to green energy for their heating and transportation needs
New Role for publicly owned Hydro
Amend the Manitoba Hydro Act to include the transition to a low-carbon economy as a core objective of Manitoba Hydro.
Diversify Hydro's grid with additional large and small-scale wind, geo-thermal and solar installations across Manitoba to mitigate the impacts of drought
Improve Hydro's bottom line by using its surplus power to replace fossil fuel use, thereby reducing the need for Pallister's extremely high rate increases
Return Power Smart programs to Manitoba Hydro with an aggressive new mandate to greatly increase efficiency efforts, one of the fastest and cheapest ways to create jobs, save money and reduce emissions.
Ashton acknowledged the broad scope of his plan includes a deliberate nod to rural and northern voters as well as urban ones. "We can't do any of these exciting things if we don't win the next election. The recent polls in Winnipeg are very encouraging, but Manitoba New Democrats know we also have to win back seats in rural and northern Manitoba to defeat Pallister and form government," said Ashton. "The ideas I've presented today set us on a path to do just that."
Ashton releases rural platform.
While at Robson Farm near Hartney, Manitoba yesterday, NDP Leadership candidate Steve Ashton released his rural platform that promotes economic development and supports rural health, education and social services.
Ashton pointed out that traditionally the NDP has represented all areas of the province. "Right now, we don't hold a single seat in rural Manitoba. Reconnecting with rural Manitobans has to be a top priority."
Steve Ashton said that rural economic development is critical. "It starts with returning to the historic investments in infrastructure that have been cut by the Pallister government. Investing in infrastructure creates good jobs and long term economic development."
Ashton, who is an economist, said the focus has to be on value added industries. "We can do a lot more to add value added to food and natural resource production."
In agriculture and fishing, Ashton said an NDP government will fully support marketing boards and supply management, including returning the Freshwater
Fish Marketing Board to a single desk system. He also committed to reinvesting in drainage and completing major flood protection infrastructure investments initiated by the NDP.
Ashton also took direct aim at the Pallister government's cuts to health. "As NDP Premier our focus would be on supporting our health care, investing in our community hospitals, rural, northern and urban."
Steve Ashton also vowed to return education facilities to being constructed publicly. On post secondary education he vowed to make Manitoba a leader in moving to the elimination of post-secondary tuitions. "We have to make education more affordable for rural students," he said.
In conclusion, Ashton said the NDP has done a lot to improve rural Manitoba. "I believe we can reconnect with rural Manitobans with a bold, progressive agenda."
Ashton commits to fairness for working people
Manitoba NDP leadership candidate Steve Ashton has released his fairness for working people platform.
Ashton said that growing inequality is a problem here in Manitoba, across Canada and increasingly around the world. He is particularly focussed in on the increasing difficulty that young people are facing in the workplace. "Low wages, part-time and precarious employment are becoming the norm. We need an economic agenda that focusses on good jobs, not the job-killing Pallister austerity, as well as modernized labour relations and employment standards laws that protect the rights of working people," Ashton stressed.
Ashton's platform includes acting in the first year of a re-elected NDP government by:
Raising the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 per hour at the beginning of the NDP government's mandate;
Ensuring equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; including temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees;
Ending the requirement for sick notes for sick leave;
Rolling back the Pallister government's anti-labour legislation, including reinstating the card-check system respecting when a majority of workers support joining a union and ending legislated wage settlements.
Ashton also promised to review and modernize workers compensation, workplace safety and health, labour relations and employment standards legislation in the first term of a re-elected NDP government, including preventing replacement workers from taking the jobs of workers during a labour disputes.
Steve Ashton was clear about his agenda. "Good jobs. Workplace fairness. A progressive agenda for Manitoba."
NDP Leadership candidate Steve Ashton has indicated that he will be releasing his most recent income tax statement as a way of showing transparency. He also called on fellow NDP leadership candidate Wab Kinew to do the same.
Ashton pointed out that day after day there are indications of just how little transparency there is with Brian Pallister and his government. "The almost daily revelations that Pallister did not tell the truth about his communications in Costa Rica are part of a pattern of a lack of honesty and transparency we are seeing with the Pallister government."
Ashton pointed out that the next NDP Leader will be taking on Brian Pallister in the next election."Going back to Howard Pawley, and in the most recent election, Greg Selinger, New Democrats have led the way in transparency by their leaders releasing their tax returns. In the last election, Brian Pallister refused to do so, raising the obvious question of 'What he has got to hide?' "
"The next leader of our party has to be prepared to show leadership. That's why I will be releasing my tax return tomorrow at 1:30 pm. I would urge Wab Kinew to do the same so that we can send the clear message that we, as New Democrats, believe in transparency, in sharp contrast to the Pallister PCs," said Ashton.
Sign up to hear from us about specials, sales, and events.