Niki Ashton was first elected in 2008, after successfully challenging a sitting MP for the NDP nomination because she voted against the Civil Marriage Act.
Ashton is currently the only female candidate in the race to replace Tom Mulcair as NDP leader. The leadership election will take place in October 2017. She previously ran for leader in 2012, and placed seventh out of nine candidates. Her current campaign is focused on fighting against privatization, deregulation and austerity. She has been outspoken on the issue of precarious work and calls herself part of the Millennial generation.
Ashton previously served as the NDP critic for Aboriginal Affairs, Status of Women, Post- Secondary Education and Youth, and most recently Jobs, Employment and Workforce Development. In 2012 she was named best constituency MP by Maclean’s Magazine.
Ashton was born and raised in Thompson and has a strong track record of standing up for northern communities and Indigenous people. In 2011 she gained the attention of filmmaker Michael Moore when she fought to prevent Vale from closing their smelter and refinery in her hometown. The company had received $1 billion in funding from the federal government and had signed a contract under the Investment Canada Act.
Ashton has a Bachelor of Arts in global political economy from the University of Manitoba and a Master’s in international affairs from Carleton University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in peace at conflict studies at the University of Manitoba. Ashton has worked as an instructor at the University College of the North. She is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Greek. She is currently expecting her first child.
Ashton’s father, Steven Ashton, has been an NDP MLA in Manitoba since 1981.