Steve Ashton played the Trump card Friday.

"Brian Pallister is a Donald Trump wannabe," the former MLA and current NDP leadership hopeful told reporters as he released his tax returns to the media. "There's no doubt about it."

Ashton specifically cited Pallister's refusal to make his tax returns public as a reason for the comparison with the embattled American president.

"The bottom line: What does he got to hide? That's the real question," Ashton said. "I think in this day and age when a politician is not prepared to release their income tax return and the details behind it, that's really the key question. Why did Donald Trump refuse to release his income taxes? Obviously, because he has things to hide. So, pretty clear.

"I think Brian Pallister's got something to hide."

Ashton also claimed Pallister was a "stranger to the truth."

"I've watched him just in the last number of years. The kind of deception we've seen from him over the last few days and weeks over how he communicates while he's in Costa Rica is a good example of that."

A spokesperson for the premier dismissed Ashton's comments.

"Deliberate attempts to fear-monger and mislead Manitobans is disappointing, but not surprising by the former NDP MLA," she said. 

"While Steve Ashton tries for his third attempt at leading the NDP, our government is focused on fixing the finances, repairing the services and rebuilding the economy that the government he was a part of had undermined for 17 years."

Challenge to Kinew 

Ashton had announced Thursday he would be releasing his tax returns, and challenged fellow leadership hopeful MLA Wab Kinew to do the same. Ashton has released his tax returns while he was an MLA for the past five years. Ashton's return for 2016 shows he made $43,819 for the year.

Since his defeat in the April 2016 election, Ashton said he has not been employed.

Conflict-of-interest laws in Manitoba require retired politicians or senior officials to wait 12 months before taking a job with any organization they had some form of influence on while in office.

"Given the cooling-off regulations it was far better being safe than sorry in the sense of not running the risk of even indirectly being in violation," Ashton said.

Kinew accepted Ashton's tax-returns challenge Thursday, but said he needed a few days to gather the information.

Steve Ashton Tax Return

Steve Ashton's tax returns for the past five years. (Submitted by Randy Schulz)

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Steve Ashton earned $43,819 in 2016. In fact, Ashton's return shows he earned $43,819 in employment income with an additional $143,249 in pension, RRSP and other income in that year, for a total income of $187,068.
    Aug 11, 2017 7:44 PM CT
With files from Jacques Marcoux