Wab Kinew speaks out after anonymous emails disclose past charges

Mudslinging on the NDP leadership campaign trail has led candidate Wab Kinew to address nagging questions about his past, including a 2003 charge of domestic assault.

The NDP leadership candidate says misinformation is being spread about his past

Wab Kinew says misinformation is being spread about him. (Remi Authier/CBC)

Mudslinging on the NDP leadership campaign trail has led candidate Wab Kinew to address nagging questions about his past, including a 2003 charge of domestic assault.

The Fort Rouge MLA told CBC News Friday he felt he needed to set the record straight after several anonymous emails were sent to media in the past two weeks. They included a copy of past criminal charges and allegations he was hiding information about his criminal background.

Included in the emails were two charges of domestic assault from 2003 that were stayed by the Crown in 2004.

"That never happened,"Kinew said of the 2003 charge. "The matter was investigated and the charges were dropped. I wanted to address [the emails]. Some of these emails have half-truths in them and there are questions being asked."

Kinew said he didn't want to go into details about the 2003 charge in order to protect the identity of the people involved.

He also declined to disclose the nature of his relationship with the woman named in the assault charge.

"The matter was investigated, but it was dropped," he said. "There was nothing to the charge."

He also disclosed a 2004 assault charge he received in Ontario that was laid after he got into a fight. The charge was dismissed, Kinew said.

Emails sent anonymously to CBC News

Two emails were sent to CBC from an Outlook address with the name "Seymour Trespasses." They stated that Kinew had a conviction of domestic assault. One email included a PDF copy of court documents pertaining to Kinew and listed several charges he had faced in his early 20s.

"Did Kinew disclose these particular convictions to the NDP party? The Voters of Fort Rouge?" the email asked.

CBC independently obtained a copy of the charges and information related to Kinew's past brushes with the law. It confirmed that the domestic charges against Kinew were stayed in 2004.

A second email detailed seven other charges that Kinew had faced, and erroneously called them convictions. It included a 2005 charge for theft under $5,000 after he cashed a money order that did not belong to him — a charge that was also stayed by the Crown.

"I cashed a cheque that wasn't mine. It was a mistake," Kinew said about the 2005 charge. 

Kinew also showed the CBC News a copy of the pardon he received in 2015 from his convictions in 2004 for DUI and assault.

NDP leadership hopefuls

Kinew is one of two people running to be the next leader of Manitoba's NDP.

On Sept. 16, selected delegates from the party will choose between Kinew and former NDP cabinet minister Steve Ashton. The party has been without a permanent leader since former premier Greg Selinger resigned following the NDP's crushing loss in the 2016 provincial election. Logan MLA Flor Marcelino is the interim leader.

This is not the first time Kinew has addressed his past indiscretions.The former hip-hop artist came under scrutiny during the 2016 election after tweets and misogynistic rap lyrics from his past surfaced.

RAW: NDP's Greg Selinger and Wab Kinew respond to Twitter controversy

7 years ago
Duration 4:03
New Democratic candidate and former CBC broadcaster Wab Kinew refused to back down Friday after Manitoba Liberals called for the NDP to drop him as a candidate over tweets they call "hurtful" and "damaging."

Kinew has repeatedly pointed out that he acknowledged and apologized for his comments in his 2015 book, The Reason You Walk. He also said he has called on hip-hop artists to stop using misogynistic lyrics.

The domestic charge and the other two charges that were eventually stayed were not disclosed in Kinew's book.

"I didn't write about the things that didn't happen," Kinew said. "No one has put out more dirt out thereabout me than I have."

Ashton denies any involvement with the emails, but questioned why Kinew didn't reveal the information during last year's campaign or in any other public forum.

He says his team received the same anonymous emails earlier this week, which led to a discussion about what they should do with the information.

"Everybody said the same thing — that basically I should not be proceeding further with it, other than with a handful of people I thought it was important to talk [with] to determine whether they were actually legitimate documents," he said.