'Get him back to Costa Rica': Federal NDP candidate Charlie Angus takes dig at Manitoba premier in Winnipeg

NDP leadership hopeful Charlie Angus took a swipe at Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister at the party's federal leadership mixer in Winnipeg on Friday night.

All 4 federal leadership candidates in Winnipeg for mixer on Friday

NDP MP Charlie Angus answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons. He says Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett 'can't get up and say it's OK to shortchange children $800 million.' (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

NDP leadership hopeful Charlie Angus took a swipe at Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister at the party's federal leadership mixer in Winnipeg on Friday night.

As he wrapped up his remarks to a crowd of about 150 people at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Angus drew big laughs when he veered off federal politics and into the provincial realm on the subject of party renewal throughout Canada.

"What I want to do is take our common conscience, the conscience of believing that we are stronger together, that we can build a society where people are not left behind, and actually take power so we can make the change for the people who need us. That's our objective now. 2019, we've got to do it."

"Manitoba? My God. You can't leave Pallister in charge here," he said. "I know he only comes back a few weeks of the year, but look at the damage he's done since he's — like, get him back to Costa Rica for God's sakes."

The Ontario MP for Timmins–James Bay was at the event with the three other federal NDP leadership candidates — Niki Ashton, Peter Julian and Guy Caron — as part of the provincial party's convention, which started on Friday and wraps up on Monday.

Angus spent the bulk of his time at the podium with a more serious tone, touching on Canadian job creation, building a nation-to-nation relationship with Canada's Indigenous peoples — "not a hashtag," Angus said — and the high rate of Indigenous kids in care.

Guy Caron, left, Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Peter Julian react to the audience as they arrive on stage for the first debate of the federal NDP leadership race, in Ottawa on Sunday, March 12, 2017. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Income inequality, climate change, the road to rebuild

Manitoba MP Niki Ashton said the federal NDP is at a "crossroads" after losing 59 seats in the 2015 election. Ashton said the party needs to engage voters at a grassroots level and look at the party as a "movement" to rebuild.

The MP for Churchill–Keewatinook Aski threw her hat into the federal leadership ring earlier this month.

Ashton also pointed at climate change, discrimination and the rise of precarious and contract work among young people as things that she wants to see addressed.

Quebec MP Guy Caron also touched on the long road ahead for the party to rebuild, pointing out he's the eastern-most MP for the party, representing the Quebec riding Rimouski–Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

The former economist dismissed the notion that economics aren't within the realm of the NDP, again putting forward his earlier proposal for a basic income.

The night's final speaker was candidate B.C. MP Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby) who emphasized the "crisis of poverty" facing Canada.

Julian condemned the fact that many of Canada's poor and homeless have disabilities or are Indigenous, and said he wants to build hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units.

Julian also said the best way to end poverty is to make post-secondary education more accessible by ending tuition fees across the country.

"We have to open doors of opportunity," he said.

​The deadline for candidates to enter the race is July 3. Rounds of voting for the next NDP leader will begin on Sept. 18.